San Benito students aim to raise vaping awareness

SAN BENITO — Vaping is a trending activity among teens but not for the SkillsUSA Animation Club.

The seniors of San Benito High School have been working on a community project to raise awareness on vaping, which is the use of electronic cigarettes.

On Thursday they invited First Assistant District Attorney Edward Sandoval as well as members of the San Benito CISD Police Department to give presentations about the dangerous hobby.

“We discussed the legal and health consequences of vaping. On September 1 the Texas law changed and made it where you have to be 21 to smoke. As we prepare to discuss that we became apparent there is a number of arrests happening because of consumption of THC, which is the intoxicant in marijuana,” Sandoval said.

“Teenagers don’t realize THC and marijuana are not the same thing and the law doesn’t treat them the same. It is actually a felony to possess THC and it is a second-degree felony to have one cartridge of THC oil,” he said.

Sandoval said the majority of people getting sick are using black market THC. He said besides not wanting teens to get arrested, they do not want them to get sick because of the use of unknown THC oil.

“We want to educate the students of the serious consequences and the 2,600 hospitalizations that have occurred. If maybe we can change some minds, that is a win for the community,” he said.

The purpose of these presentations according to Paul Hernandez, Career & Technical Education teacher, is to use a topic of importance to serve as a project for their SkillsUSA competition.

Students were able to witness the presentations throughout the day, learning about the laws and consequences of vaping or owning an electronic cigarette.

Ariel Lopez, 18, is part of the animation club and one of the creators of the initiative.

“We created a public service announcement and invited the DA’s office to come to spread awareness,” she said.

“Right now it is the trending thing to do for teens but is it not the healthiest thing to do. We don’t actually know what is killing people but if no one has heard about it then they are going to continue doing it and more deaths will arise,” Lopez said.

The students will also be creating fliers to continue the project until they compete in their SkillsUSA competition.