Vaping still vexes

Public speaker Robb Holladay uses humor and the occasional scare tactic to open teenagers’ eyes to the side effects of vaping. Photo / Per Peterson

A national speaker stopped in Tracy last week to talk to TAHS students about the downfalls of vaping, reminding them that it’s not a safe alternative to smoking

By Per Peterson

Well before COVID-19 forced students into distance learning, a scourge that caught many parents off guard had already infiltrated high schools everywhere. And even though it’s less publicized than it was a few years ago, vaping is still a serious issue among teens.

Last Tuesday, Tracy Area High School students were reminded of the pitfalls of vaping, which has been sold to the public as a safe alternative to smoking.

The man behind the message was Robb Holladay, a retired licensed x-ray technician from Dallas, TX, and he said not only did vaping not disappear during the pandemic, it has gotten worse.

“It has not gone away; actually, we’ve seen an increase,” Holladay said after talking with the TAHS student body last week. “In some smaller towns, they say their vaping had went down, but most places I go, we’re seeing a big increase.”

Why is that? Holladay said it’s simple.

“Students were at home by themselves for a long time here in the last two to three years,” said Holladay, who has been public speaking on teenage topics such as bullying, cyberbullying and vaping since 2000 (he has spent the last four years on the vaping issue). “They’ve been unsupervised … and we have seen a connection to vaping and COVID. In the beginning, students weren’t getting COVID, but then as different strains came along, they were. We’ve seen that students that vape and also get COVID, usually get sicker and it takes them longer to recover. We’ve seen the data to back that up.”

TAHS Principal Kathy Vondracek knows all too well that vaping hasn’t gone away at TAHS.

“Now that kids aren’t socially distanced and we have eight classes a day, there are twice as many passing times during the day, so kids are in the bathroom a lot more,” Vondracek said. “It’s happening.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.