Concerns Explode Over Teen Vaping

By: 
Judy Kramer
County Reporter
One anonymous Warsaw teen reports that vaping was a big trend at Warsaw High School last year and is continuing this year. He said that he got caught up in it, trying it for about a month until he learned that it was the wrong thing to do after seeing the outcome of vaping around the world.
“It seems to have gone down some this year, and none of my friends do it,” said the teen. “I feel that if the people who still do it would open their eyes and watch the news they would stop.”
A September 20 article at www.columbiamissourian.com reported that schools, nationwide, have stepped up their anti-vaping efforts this year after a mysterious lung infection has caused at least 450 illnesses and eight deaths in the country. And, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced plans to ban most flavored vaping products.
St. Charles school district, Francis Howell, is suing vaping company Juul Labs, along with many other Missouri school districts. The suit is part of a coordinated package of litigation filed by school districts across the country that are dealing with a similar crisis of students addicted to nicotine.
According to www.kansascity.com, Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley school boards in Kansas also voted on October 15 to sue Juul for its marketing that many think has targeted children and teens. Blue Valley school board president, Cindy Bowling, stated in the article that it is a drain of resources and a major distraction for students, teachers and administrators. Shawnee Mission director of health services, Shelby Rebeck,  reported that without nicotine, our kids while they’re at school are feeling cravings. She said that they’re jittery, anxious and irritable, and literally cannot make it through the day without vaping due to their addiction.
School districts are handling the crisis in different ways, from enrolling addicted kids in an online cessation program, treating it as a tobacco violation with school suspension and treating it as a controlled substance.
“We first took disciplinary action for vaping in the 2017-2018 school year,” said Lincoln High School Principal Mark Spunaugle. “There were more disciplines in the 2018-2019 school year, but so far there have been no disciplines during the current school year for vaping. The school board and school administrators determined early on that we would not treat inhaling as a tobacco violation. We deemed it as a serious problem to health and it is not conducive to a learning environment. So, in 2017-18 we began treating vaping as a controlled substance offense. 
The first offense leads to 10 days school suspension, and a second offense leads to more serious disciplinary action up to being expelled.”
Principal Spunaugle said that the early e-cigarettes were easily identifiable because of a cloud of vapor that appeared along with a pungent smell. However, in the last few years, vaping has evolved so that there is no cloud and very little smell. He said that it makes it very hard to detect.
Spunaugle related that some vaping products may contain flavoring, and others varying amounts of nicotine. He said that one Juul pod can contain the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, and that sometimes other items can be put in pods such as THC – the ingredient in marijuana that creates a high.
“We spend all of our time trying to do what is best for our kids,” said Spunaugle. “We unanimously agree that vaping is not good for anybody, especially kids. We love our kids and want to help them make healthy life choices and be accountable for their actions.”
Warsaw High School (WHS) categorizes vaping as a tobacco violation when it occurs on school property or at a school-sponsored event. A first offense results in five days of In School Suspension. Discipline for a second or third offense depends on the individual situation and can go up from there, including school suspension or being expelled.
“Every year is different,” said WHS Assistant Principal Cody Wright. “We start off with some of the same problems, and by the end of the year have solutions that improve the situation. If drug paraphernalia is involved, that is a more serious offense. And, if there is a constant problem a student may be referred to the juvenile justice system.  “
Wright said the question he has about the vaping issue, is “Why are we putting something like this on the market that attracts children?”
 

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