By Kathryn Ho
West Hills Press
West Hills MS
1st Place Division MS, News Writing
Environmental, Health or Science


  • Topic relevant to the school or students and covers health, science or environmental story that is informative
  • Sharp, attention-getting lead grabs reader and arouses curiosity
  • Shows thorough reporting skills through research and interviewing
  • Effective use of facts/quotes from both primary and secondary sources
  • Balanced, fair and sensitive presentation
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar; use of third person

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially raised the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy tobacco products. This includes vaping products that contain nicotine. President Trump signed the new age limit on Dec. 20, 2019, as part of a larger government funding bill. Several months before this, Michigan had already started to address the vaping problem. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, “Michigan was the first state in the nation to announce a ban on the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products,” though the ban has been blocked by the courts. What was so dangerous about vaping that led to passing these new rules? According to pulmonologist Mike Lazar, vaping has started to rise in the U.S. “The tobacco companies have really advertised aggressively to kids and adults that vaping was a safe alternative to cigarette smoking. In addition, they created ‘flavored’ liquids to tempt kids, who are non-smokers, to get hooked on this product.” Dr. Lazar said. Vaping and smoking are commonly confused. Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling aerosol or vapor produced by a vape device. Vaping is also commonly referred to as using an electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette. Cigarettes come in a paper wrapping that contains tobacco. They are lit by a flame and can only be used once. Vaping devices, however, are electronic and come in different forms. They use batteries and reusable powder packages. They can look like regular cigarettes, but can also be disguised as pens, USB drives and other everyday objects. This allows students to hide these devices more easily. According to the pulmonary division at Henry Ford Hospital, “There has been significant lung injury associated with vaping. One person’s lungs were so sick that he required a lung transplant at Henry Ford Hospital. Unfortunately, he only vaped one time.” A recent scientific study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine was one of the first to show long term harm from using e-cigarettes. It found that e-cigarettes increased the risk of lung disease by a third compared to those who had never vaped. West Hills Principal Mr. Durecka says vaping is a serious problem at Bloomfield Hills High School. “Unfortunately, some students have even been caught vaping at West Hills,” Mr. Durecka said. He also says the school consequences have changed as well. “They’ve moved from the traditional discipline like suspension, to treatment that helps the student to not vape,” Mr. Durecka said. Teenagers are the main users of vaping devices. According to the University of Michigan’s 2017 Monitoring the Future study, “1 in 3 high school seniors tried vaping in the past year.” A reason why could be the thousands of vape flavors to choose from, including fruity and sweet themed flavors that mainly target teens. The expectation is that growth will continue. Some estimate that the market will be worth over $60 billion by 2025. Vaping has been shown in kids to be a “gateway” to using other tobacco products like cigarettes. Kids who start using vaping flavors continue to use vaping liquid with nicotine and then progress to smoking cigarettes. According to the pulmonary division at Henry Ford Hospital, the effects of vaping are only just beginning to be learned. “The effects in the future for those who vape might be even scarier than we can imagine now,” they said. Dr. Lazar wants students to know that vaping, even once, could lead to significant health problems. “I would recommend that EVERYONE should avoid vaping,” he said.