Vaping is on the rise, and school districts are looking at ways to thwart the use of vape pens and other tobacco products.
Coppell ISD Superintendent Brad Hunt recently released a letter to parents explaining the issues the district has been having with vaping and the use of THC oils, a concentrated form of marijuana/cannabis extracts.
“Many school districts, including CISD, are seeing a significant increase in the use of e-cigarettes, otherwise known as vaping,” Hunt said in the letter. “In CISD, we have seen this issue from the elementary level through high school. Use of these vaping or e-cigarette devices poses a significant – and avoidable – health risk to young people in the United States.”
Media outlets across the nation have outlined the effects vaping has had on young adults, including lung and heart problems.
Rachel Freeman, safety and security coordinator, said she spoke with a middle school student who was being disciplined for a vape offense. She said the student described feeling jittery and anxious. After continued use of the product, the student said he felt like he needed to have it nearly every hour.
Jennifer Villines, director of student and staff services, said CISD confiscated more than 100 vaping devices from grades 5-12 last year.
She said the district has purchased additional resources to assist them in catching students with vape pens including metal detection wands, vapor sensing devices and online reporting methods. In addition, the district has intensified its education outreach efforts to parents and students.
Villines said the best way to discourage vaping is to educate both students and parents on the subject.
“There are so many myths about vaping being a safer or healthier alternative to tobacco,” she said. “However, it is near impossible to actually regulate your nicotine intake with a vape.
One myth is that vaping allows a person to smoke less. Villines said just one vape cartridge is equivalent to an entire pack of cigarettes. In addition, vape cartridges can be tampered with and have harmful substances mixed in.
“Know the risks, know the product and know the ways you can stand up and say ‘no’ if you’re not into unhealthy choices,” Villines said.
Freeman said the most important thing a parent can do is to model the behavior they want to see in their child. Talking about the subject as well as decision making and what influences those decisions is helpful as well, she said.
On Sept. 1 a new law went into effect that raises the age a person can legally possess and sell tobacco products including vape pens from 18-21. However, Freeman said most young adults she’s talked to have told her they are obtaining vaping devices online, which she said is easy to do.
CISD offers several online resources to learn more about vaping and how to combat the issue including ParentToolkit and two presentations on drugs, alcohol and vaping.
“You are given one body and one life,” Freeman said. “Be smart with you choices.”