Vista’s Fight Against Hookah Pens

Vista’s administration has made it their priority to prevent the student use of hookah pens on campus since they have been showing up in classes more regularly, posing health risks  to the users, and at times potentially hiding other drugs inside.

Hookah pens (and similar products) allow the user to add materials to vaporize and inhale. People who like being around smokers but don’t want the harmful side effects see this as a benefit. No matter what substance the user inserts into the cartridge, there is no burning smell or smoke released.

Since the vapor is not easily detectable, it is popular among students and a large concern for some adults.

“We are finding that most of these devices are being used in a way other than what they are meant for,” said Vice Principal Lori Emmington. “Hookah pens are being purchased online and kids are using them to smoke hash and other illegal substances, so we are going to be looking at these hookah pens and we’ll be considering them as drug paraphernalia.”

The ability to insert whatever the user wants into the pens is what is being seen as the biggest issue, thus challenging administrators and teachers to meet the challenge head-on.

“I think the biggest concern is the ability to put other drugs inside them.” said Terry Blesso, a Vista PE teacher and adviser to the club Friday Night Live (FNL), which encourages and pushes for a healthy lifestyle for teens.

Vista’s policy, however, has no rule designated specifically for the prevention or banning of hookah pens at this time. “There is nothing really in district policy because every time something new comes out we have to rewrite everything,” said Emmington.

The problem is growing at a rapid rate; However, many adults are not trying to prevent the use of them because they have no idea they exist. “A lot of it is going unnoticed because people don’t know about it,” said Michelle Daggett, a Sacramento County employee that supervises FNL.

Emmington says this is why she is working to inform the parents along with the students with a Powerpoint she made and posted to the school website.

“The teachers were surprised. I was surprised,” said Emmington. “As I was gathering this information, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I need to share this.’”

There are multiple forms of vaporizers, or “vapes,” such as E-Cigarettes E-Pens, Vapor Pens, and the popular Hookah Pens with flavored vapor.

Even if the hookah pen being used has no nicotine or other drug inserted to hurt the users health, students caught with them still have consequences.

When asked where the district stood on the topic, the response from Emmington was clear: “The district’s policy for tobacco gives schools the same parameters as it does for drug paraphernalia so if a student is caught with a tobacco product [or drug paraphernalia] they could get anywhere from a warning up to a week of suspension … so both have the same type of consequences.”

The numerous problems that come with hookah pens are the reason Vista is trying to prevent its use, and though there are ones that only vaporize water, there are consequences that come with those, also. For this reason, Emmington and the district are working to stop their use altogether.

They may be gaining in popularity, but not all students at Vista view them in the same light. In the words of Leo Merle, a sophomore member of FNL: “I see no point in them.”