Chico State’s venture into vanquishing vaping


One of many smoke and tobacco free signs on campus. Photo by Noah Herbst, taken Nov. 29.

Whether it’s occasional clouds of thick, white smoke, or the occasional fruity or minty scent you smell walking to and from class, one doesn’t have to look too hard around campus to find evidence of vaping.

Despite Chico State being a smoke and tobacco-free campus since 2017, vaping is still an issue for some students.

In an effort to tackle this problem, WellCat Prevention organized Vaping 101, a student-led presentation and the most recent installment of the Wildcat ROAR series.

The presentation was conducted by student peer educator Lissette Mejia and took place on Nov. 17. Mejia and her colleagues sought to inform students about the dangers of vaping and share with them resources on quitting.

Multiple attendees spent 45 minutes learning about the harm vaping can cause from student peer educators. The audience was thoroughly engaged in the discussion, asking questions and commenting while enjoying free pizza.

Student peer educators (left to right) Tyrell Simmons, Lissette Mejia and Rosie Burdick lead the Vaping 101 presentation. Photo by Noah Herbst, taken Nov. 17.

The student peer educators shared a variety of data and information in their presentation, complete with plenty of infographics and statistics. For example, one Puff Bar has as much nicotine in it as 50 cigarettes. Additionally, the harmful chemicals found in vaping devices and e-cigarettes result in respiratory issues and cancer.

One piece of information that seemed to surprise students was that certain flavors of vape products can actually be worse for your health than others, specifically vanilla and cinnamon.

Researchers attribute this to the fact that these flavors of vape contain chemicals that are used in food flavoring, and while these chemicals may be safe to ingest, they can be harmful if inhaled.

Mejia was happy with the turnout; she said that previous installments of the Wildcat Roar series had larger audiences of up 40 students, specifically their presentations on alcohol, prescription drugs and how to help a friend with a substance issue.

Kelsey Simpson, the Prevention Coordinator for WellCat Prevention, said there will be more coverage of vaping in the future, and there are numerous resources available for those interested in quitting vaping. Some of the resources, such as appointments with a cessation counselor, free nicotine patches and nicotine gum, are all made available by WellCat Prevention at the Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center.

Other resources involve community organizations, and none exhibit this more prominently than The Great American Smokeout, an annual event put on by the American Cancer Society. The event, which took place at the Trinity Commons on Nov. 18, attracted several students.

The event hosted a variety of different information booths, including ones from Butte County’s Nicotine Action Alliance, the California Health Collaborative’s Leadership in Equity Action and Development program and Enloe Medical Center.

A student interacts with the WellCat Prevention and Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center booths at the Great American Smokeout. Photo taken by Noah Herbst on Nov. 18

Simpson said the purpose of the smokeout was to reach out to students who vape or use tobacco products and challenge them to quit or reduce their usage.

This type of outreach is important for any campus where vapes and nicotine products are easily accessible. A quick google map search reveals that there are 10 smoke shops within a ten-minute drive from Chico State, with several of them being within walking distance from campus. Close proximity and the sheer number of smokeshops makes obtaining tobacco and nicotine products relatively easy.

Elijah Duffy, a Chico State student and employee at The Dungeon smoke shop says he gets a myriad of young customers looking to purchase vapes. 

“Young people do get cigarettes, but I’d say 80% are getting disposables,” he said.

When asked about how Dungeon makes sure their products don’t contain harmful chemicals or unmentioned additives, Duffy said that they do a great deal of research themselves to make sure their products are safe. Additionally, they test their products themselves and have specific people that test them as well. If they find something off, they notify their distributor and recommend they stop buying the product. 

For those who could not attend the Great American Smokeout or Vaping 101 but are interested in resources and information on how to combat substance addiction or abuse, the WellCat Prevention Center is open Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at Sutter Resident Hall, specifically SUTR 150P, and is right next to the HUB.

In addition, both in-person and zoom meetings with a professional staff member are available. Meetings can be scheduled by contacting the prevention center at (530) 898-6450, or by clicking here.

Noah Herbst can be reached through email at [email protected] or on Twitter at NoahHerbst13.