The Importance of Saying No


Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license. Joel יוֹאֵל

Young adults can be seen dancing the night away at a local party in Atlanta, in 2009. Bodies clashing and music blasting, accompanied with the fact that the picture is blurry, truly sets the seen for a classic high school party in Georgia.

She stands in the corner, slightly dazed and sweaty. The batch of bodies dancing to a heavy bass, shaking the floor below her, flicker through her senses, and she can barely comprehend the situation, let alone find her way out of it. Right now, it’s all about finding her friends. The people she can trust to keep her out of trouble.

Slowly trudging through the large huddle of people, the girl finally makes her way to the kitchen, where she finds a few familiar faces, but no one she knows well. They sit in a circle and use something she’s seen people on the internet try: an e-cigarette. The girl immediately knows that any involvement in this situation will only take her downhill, yet her friends insist she sit with them, even if she isn’t going to try using the vape.

As time progresses, she becomes comfortable with the new people and substances she is faced with, and almost begins to enjoy their presence. As if she were losing herself in the night, she contemplates trying the vape, and her friends begin to cheer her on for having those thoughts, constantly pushing her to give it a try.

“It’s only tonight, this can’t be that bad.”


In the past few years, the abuse of e-cigarettes, otherwise known as ‘vaping’ has taken the world by storm in the worst way possible. This attempt at a healthy alternative for the infamously addictive cigarette has specifically targeted teenagers in middle school and high school, with 7 out of 10 teenagers becoming exposed to these subjects in advertisements, leaving an lasting impression on teenagers, and significantly raising their chances of eventually misusing one of the substances in the future.


Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license. Lindsay Fox 
In the above photo, a man can be seen using an e-cigarette pen, a popularized alternative to smoking cigarettes. In 2017, 11.3% of high school students were found using e-cigarettes . Due to many misconceptions involving the health effects of e-cigarettes, students often take what they’re doing to their bodies for granted.

While the negative side effects and lifelong consequences of vaping are very much prevalent in the media, each year numerous teenagers fall into the ploy of peer pressure and marketing schemes of companies producing and selling vapes. This leaves many, including myself, pondering:

What drives students to participate in these activities, what can schools do, and why should students care?


In order to truly understand what goes through the mind of teenagers as they are faced with a life-changing decision, a student at South Forsyth High school has shared what his viewpoint is on the rising epidemic, and what may trigger it in high schools. Although he has been offered many opportunities to fall into peer pressure, he stands firm in his belief of abstaining from vaping and misusing illegal substances.

“Vaping is pretty bad for a person, I don’t think it’s a good idea for any teenager in high school,” said Rishabh Chouhan.  “People are definitely peer pressured into vaping; it’s done by people to be ‘cool’ or to get ‘clout’ but honestly there’s no point to it. Just like any other drug it might make you feel good for a little but in the long run it’s very bad.”

Peer pressure and popularity seem to be common themes associated with vaping, because students care so much about their social lives, they may often overlook their futures and the consequences of vaping in school and in their medical health.

By refusing the temptation of falling into bad habits, students are possibly saving their lives, and influencing others to follow their lead of righteousness.

When asked how Mrs. McManus, the school nurse, feels about the consequences of vaping in school, she says, “To be honest, this wasn’t a concern until a year or two ago. We [the school system] are still trying to understand the problem and educate students on what they’re really doing to their bodies. Most student do it because they are bored and want to try something new, but they do not know how real addiction is and how vaping will effect their lives.”


Her mind is chasing its thoughts, a mile a minute. She is simply lost. But, she quickly composes herself and speaks in her head.

‘This can change my life.’

She raises her head high and looks into her friend’s eyes. There’s nothing but regret and carelessness. She know she’s ruining herself.

Suddenly a voice protrudes her thoughts.

“So what? Are you trying or not?” One of the girls slurs.

She hesitates for a moment, but then quickly regains her confidence and sternly responds.

No thank you.”