According to a study by the University of Michigan, last year, one in three high school seniors used a vape or e-cigarettes. When these students have younger siblings these harmful products have found their way to middle and in some cases elementary schools! With ever mounting peer pressure and a desire to “look cool” vaping and e-cigarette’s are becoming an epidemic in schools.
Familiarize yourself with the terminology
Vaping and e-cigs are not the same. Traditional e-cigarettes have a distinct cigarette taste and appeal which has been found to be far more popular with older teens. Meanwhile, vapes are small, refillable devices that heat “vape juice,” atomizing the liquid into a mist. Neither device uses traditional tobacco, but both can deliver nicotine, and a hodgepodge of unknown harmful chemicals including THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.
Teachers and administrators face an uphill battle to deter vaping
Vape technology has evolved quickly, making devices small and discreet. While some models are larger and look like refillable lighters with a mouthpiece, others are shaped like fountain pens. Students make it a game to not get caught. Sometimes going as far as Snapchatting themselves vaping in class and blowing the smoke into their sleeve right in front of the teacher! One variety of vape, The Juul, looks like a thumb drive and can fit in your fist. Make sure that everyone on your staff knows what vaping devices look like.
Vape manufacturers are targeting our students
Do you love the flavor of Skittles, or are you more of a Swedish Fish kind of person? Either way, there’s a vape juice for you. The appeal to children is clear. Vape juices come in fruit juice, candy, and breakfast-cereal-style flavors. According to a study by Dr. Adam O. Goldstein of the University of North Carolina, teens perceive that fruit-flavored substances are less harmful. The misinformation to students is clear in 2017 it was reported that 51.8% of high school seniors believe that the substance they were vaping was “just flavoring” that posed no health risk.
Students don’t understand that vaping is harmful.
The jury is still out on the long-term effects vaping can have on users. Nicotine can impede brain development, and vapes can deliver a high dosage of it. Young vapers also report bleeding gums and what is now being a called a “vaper’s cough.” Vaping should be a topic covered in your health curriculum.
Marijuana is now odor-free
Masked by sugary, fruity flavors, vape juice containing THC oil can go undetected. When it comes to younger students “borrowing” an older siblings vape it is likely that they will have no idea what is inside the reservoir.
Establish a school-wide protocol on vaping
For the most part, vaping should fall under the existing school policy on drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, but it can be complicated. A vaping device does not necessarily contain any nicotine. So it’s important to update your policy to specifically address vaping on school grounds and possession of vaping devices. Some schools move directly to suspension, but others are taking a different approach, believing that time hanging out alone at home is not a strong solution for students caught with a vaping device at school. Completion of a drug and alcohol prevention course is another possible consequence; many schools are seeing good results when they use this method.