It’s an increasingly common scene in our local schools: Student assemblies devoted to the dangers of vaping.
Tuesday morning saw a packed auditorium at Monroe High School as facts and tough talk were delivered by school leaders about battling the vaping epidemic sweeping through local schools and those across the nation.
The issue of vaping is one of the most prominent in the nation’s schools as student have returned to finish the second part of their year. Experts have warned about the unhealthy consequences for students.
That has led to scenes like the one on Tuesday.
“These (vaping supply) companies are getting you hooked … and its very, very difficult to get off of. And at your age they will drastically affect your health,” said Tom Prohaska, principal of Monroe High School.
“If you think it’s funny watching some of your classmates do this, remember it (nicotine) is an addictive substance and it’s going to do harm to you,” Prohaska told the more than 300 teens.
Vaping, also known as “juuling,” has many area school systems setting up first-time informational assemblies to combat the epidemic. Schools in Lakota and Madison districts have also recently held such events.
A recent national survey revealed one in five high school seniors say they have vaped in the previous month.
Monroe teens heard about the punishments they face should they be caught vaping or having the tiny transmission devices on them.
“Possession or use … first offense is a three-day suspension,” Monroe Assistant Principal Jon Creamer, told the students.
“Second offense is a five-day suspension and third offense is a 10-day suspension with a recommendation to the superintendent for your expulsion,” said Creamer. “We don’t want that (stuff) in our schools, and we are going to do whatever we can to keep that stuff out of our schools.”
West Chester Police Officer Keith Beall works as school resource officer for Butler Tech’s Bioscience high school program, which includes students from Monroe, and is one of county’s leaders in coordinating with other SROS both vaping prevention and informational programs.
“People are shocked to find out how wide-spread this is and now it’s … an epidemic,” said Beall.
And health officials from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report “current e-cigarette use increased considerably among U.S. middle and high school students during 2017–2018, reversing a decline observed in recent years and increasing overall tobacco product use.”
Unlike cigarettes, student vaping on school campuses is more difficult to detect, officials said. Electronic cigarettes are small — as tiny as a USB computer drive — battery-powered devices that provide nicotine and other additives to the user in the form of an aerosol. They can also include minute amounts of flavored oil adding pleasing tastes to the experience of inhaling the aerosol and exhaling an odorless vapor.
And the concentration of nicotine is often many times stronger than provided by traditional cigarettes and intensifies the user’s susceptibility to addiction to the powerful drug, which can severely alter teens’ personalities and harm their still-developing brains, say health officials.
Medical experts warn nicotine additions can radically impact teens’ abilities to concentrate and may fuel wide mood swings, impede motivation and contribute to some teens already prone to depression.
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