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New trends, same dangers

Megan Root

On any given Thursday night, Euphoria Hookah Lounge in Fairfield, Conn., is abuzz with the chatter of happy, young people, the melodies of live music, the tapping of feet dancing across the ground. It’s not where you would have found the typical high school student 10 years ago, but today, hookah bars are becoming a trendy scene for Staples students.

A hookah pipe is a long, flexible tube that draws smoke through water from a bowl. The main ingredient, usually tobacco or cannabis, is heated in the top of the hookah, and the water filters the smoke at the base. This product, which is usually flavored, is becoming increasingly popular among Westport teens. Hookah bars won’t serve teens under the age of 18.

Brooke Berlin ’14, who knows Staples students who smoke hookah or cigarettes regularly, mentions that she thinks teens are even more likely to use hookah pens, a similar product which can be purchased at gas stations or other vendors and used at home, versus actually going out to a hookah bar.

“They are fun flavors and easy to buy at gas stations,” Berlin said, noting that hookah pens are often used more for the social aspects of the experience than for the way that they make the user feel. She also feels that this is true for students smoking cigarettes.

“I have definitely noticed that the kids smoking cigarettes are doing it socially,” Berlin said. “A lot of kids will have a ‘drunk boge,’ meaning they are only doing it at parties or if they are already under the influence.”

Ned Hardy ’13 agrees that most students don’t smoke cigarettes regularly. “I know of some people that smoke cigarettes, but they’re kind of suspect.”

Unlike marijuana or alcohol, which have mind-altering qualities, hookah doesn’t have the same effects. “I like hookah just to do fun tricks with the smoke,” an anonymous Staples senior and hookah user said.

Pedro Da Silva ’16, who claims to know many hookah users, says that the lack of a high leads users to feel it is safe. “The people I know who have tried it said that it doesn’t get you high like weed. So, again, they assume it’s much safer,” Da Silva said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “The tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe, and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke.”

Da Silva said that the false sense of safety associated with hookah also applies to e-cigs, a popular alternative to cigarettes.

“I think that e-cigs are becoming much more popular [than cigarettes],”Berlin said.

“They are more appealing to kids because you can have different flavors, and they ‘aren’t bad for you,’ though I don’t know the actual health differences between e-cigs and real cigs.”

However, the lack of a high, which give some students a false sense of security, is the same thing that seems to make it boring for others.

“The experience wasn’t too crazy. Gives you a sense of what smoking might be like, but definitely not something to do often or all the time,” said an anonymous junior, who says he and people he knows have tried hookah and e-cigs. “It really just lets you play around with water vapor and people find it fun.”

Another anonymous junior agrees. “I’ve smoked hookah before, and it was fun but nothing that would make me wanna do it again,” he said.

“It’s not worth the money or the effort.”

According to WebMD, e-cigs may be slightly less dangerous than regular cigarettes, as the most harmful aspect of smoking nicotine is the smoke, and e-cigs do not burn. However, they still present health risks, including that they are addictive and not regulated by the FDA.

“It could be considered somewhat of a gateway,given that it’s a step down from actual smoking, but could definitely lead to someone trying it,” the first anonymous junior said. “That’s if you believe that smoking in general is a gateway; hookahs and e-cigs in a sense are a gateway to a gateway.”

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About the Contributors
Julie Bender, Web Opinions Editor
Baby sitting and journalism may seem to have nothing in common, but Julie Bender ’15 packs both professions into her high school career. While many students were off at camp or vacationing this summer, Bender was hard at work baby sitting families and friends. She was extremely dedicated to her job, practically becoming the neighborhood babysitter. Her baby skills easily compliment to her journalism skills as “dealing with children is like dealing with interviewees.” Using her same dedication towards her baby sitting monopoly, Bender hopes to improve her writing skills before she leaves Staples in 2015. There is no rush, however, as Bender “loves getting the info out” through journalism. After three years of being ruled over by seniors, Bender finally finds herself at the top of the food chain in high school. The best moment of the summer was “taking off the junior parking sticker” Bender said. Finally bursting through the doors as a senior girl, covered in feathers and whistles is a moment that all high school girls can’t wait for. Her excitement as a senior has added on to her excitement for journalism this year. Bender has a passion for opinions and news articles; she loves the fun, fast-paced language that is used in the writing style. It also gives her opportunities to interview unique and interesting people. Her favorite article she wrote, in fact, was an article on Hookah and E-Cig usage in high school because the interview process was one of the most awkward. Whether it is journalism or caring for children, Julie Bender brings all aspects of high school to the table in her last year writing for Inklings. She hopes to end the year strong and keep up with her hard work and dedication in and out of high school.  
Ellie Gavin, Staff Writer
Most people would not compare journalism to sailing. At first glance, the two activities could not be less similar: one involves being in a boat, while the other involves thinking of creative headlines. For Ellie Gavin ’14, however, it’s a different story. Gavin has been sailing for as long as she can remember, she tells me one sunny afternoon in August. When Gavin speaks, her hands mirror the bright tone of her voice, with animated gesticulations aplenty. Gavin explains that she loves the decision-making aspect of sailing, and anticipates bringing some of these skills to Inklings. Like any good journalist, Gavin has an angle – she hopes to expose the truth and make people think, and she’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. When I ask her if she’s nervous about being a brand-new member of Inklings, she pauses for the first time in our conversation. “A few years ago, I was sailing, nowhere near land, and there was a big storm,” Gavin said. “To get through something scary, the worst thing you can do is back down. Keep doing what you’d be doing if you were in a more comfortable situation.” Be it a storm or a tough interview, Gavin’s going to keep on sailing.
Megan Root, News Editor
Megan Root ’15, never stops running, whether it is on the soccer field or chasing a story. She began her Inklings career her second half of junior year as a staff writer and has recently transitioned into a position as a news editor. Before Inklings she was an avid reader of the New York Times who loved politics and education. To Root, one of the main attractions of the paper was it gave her the opportunity to discover more about her school and community. “It gives you cover, you are not just a random person asking questions you are a reporter asking questions.” To Root the interview is the key to the story. After every interview she writes down all of the interesting quotes and pieces of information she took away. It is from this information that she tries to find the story. One piece she wrote that she believes best showcases her ability to do this is Genders split over weight-training. Although the story was originally supposed to be about how some teams were getting more time in the weight room than others, she discovered that the boys’ teams just wanted more time in the weight whereas the girls teams did not. Root has some personal experience with sports, as a varsity athlete and senior captain of the girls varsity soccer team at Staples. She says when she was about three years old her older brother, who also played soccer, started to teach her. And she was marked for success right from the start, “My first game...nobody else really knew how to play, so I had this really unfair advantage, and I scored twelve goals my first game.” She continued that success through high school, making the varsity team her freshman year and becoming captain her junior year.  

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