If a student reports that someone is vaping at Independence High School, Assistant Principal Ryan Solano might get a notification on his Apple watch.
Students can submit reports on their phones through an anonymous system and specify where somebody is vaping. This allows Solano to get on the scene as soon as possible.
“They’re kind of our eyes and ears out there in the building, because we can’t see everywhere and everything that’s going on,” Solano said.
Independence is just one school in Frisco ISD to use the system. As the country has grown more aware of the potential medical effects of vaping, Frisco ISD has also implemented a program to prevent students from using vaping products.
“CATCH My Breath,” initiated by the Coordinated Approach to Child Health organization, is rolled out in secondary schools in the district, Solano said. The program features lessons meant to engage students in the vaping prevention conversation.
Frisco ISD student ambassadors have worked over summer breaks to help make the lessons relevant to other students, Solano said. Lessons include students sitting in circles talking about how to say “no” to vaping amongst themselves rather than hearing it from adults.
Solano said this gives students a chance to see that many of their peers aren’t vaping.
“The huge misconception is that most teenagers are vaping when the reality is that’s not the case,” Solano said.
The topic has also caught on in Lewisville ISD, which Student Services Director Rebecca Clark said has seen a rise in vaping product use over the past few years.
“Vaping has replaced smoking as the new ‘cool’ and even worse, has become somewhat normalized,” Clark said. “Vaping is so widespread among high school students that it is not seen as an outlier behavior by some teens. Some parents are even condoning and normalizing the behavior and categorizing it as, ‘safer than other things they could experiment with.’”
LISD implemented its own educational efforts regarding vaping as part of its Red Ribbon Campaign outreach, Clark said. The district also produced a video in which school resource officers discussed signs that a child is vaping.
“Vaping has become a major issue in our community,” School Resource Officer Cole Langston said in the video.
The video is part of a series called “Ask an Expert” which gives insight from LISD staff on how to approach subjects like grief, bullying and substance abuse.
“Recently, vaping has become popular because of the flavors they are luring the teenagers in with,” Student Assistance Counselor Shelly Gloyna said in a 2018 video about substances teenagers are exposed to.
On Jan. 2, the Food and Drug Administration finalized its enforcement policy on certain unauthorized e-cigarette products that “appeal” to children, including those with fruit and mint flavors, according to a press release from the administration. The FDA gave manufacturers of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes 30 days to cease manufacture, sale and distribution of the product before the FDA took enforcement action. The policy excludes tobacco and menthol flavors.
The policy is not a ban, and the administration began reviewing premarket applications for flavored “electronic nicotine delivery systems” products, according to the release.
Solano said the district has seen an increase in students who are vaping. He said there has also been an increase in reports from other students.
“Most students are not on board with it, do not think that it's safe or cool, and they're the ones that are trying to put a stop to it,” he said.
In a previous survey of Frisco ISD students, 15% of 10th-graders said they had tried to vape at least once, while the national average was 32%, Solano said. In the same survey, Solano said 30% of 12th-graders had reported vaping while the average nationally was 37%. Solano said the district provided training in the fall for administrators on how to look for clues that a student is vaping or has a vaping device.
As for students who get caught vaping, the district attempts to educate them in connection with the “CATCH My Breath” program while they attend in-school suspension, Solano said.
Clark said the best way for parents to prevent usage is to openly talk with their child every day. She said parents should not assume that their child won’t use vaping products and should keep in mind that vaping can include illegal substances.
“Trust, but verify is a good approach,” she said.