High school administration gives new consequences to students who vape

By Ryelee Stone                  

Opinions Editor

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been a total of 2,711 hospitalized cases due to e-cigarettes and vaping products as of Jan. 21, 2020. In 27 states and the District of Columbia, there have been 60 confirmed deaths that have also been linked to vaping.

Vaping is the action of using electronic devices such as e-cigarettes to inhale nicotine, which is an addictive chemical. These devices were marketed as a “healthier” option for those who smoke traditional cigarettes.

However, e-cigarettes have fallen into the wrong hands and have caused many health complications, as well as hooking a new generation onto nicotine. There are a variety of reasons why individuals may vape such as mental illnesses, peer pressure, social media, and more. 

“I vape because that is how I deal with my anxiety,” a local senior girl said. “Sometimes it is just what I turn to in order to find comfort and to calm my nerves.” 

Vaping is an ongoing issue in the nation and in other parts of the world that has affected teenagers. School administrations now have the responsibility of ensuring that students do not vape during the school day.

At Red Lion Area Senior High School, there are students who attend there that vape daily. The school has taken certain measures to try to educate students about this ongoing epidemic. 

“The people that developed vaping lied to you,” principal Mr. Mark Shue said. “They said it wouldn’t hurt you and that’s not true.”

Health classes and different programs are provided so students have the opportunity to learn about the dangers of e-cigarettes. New programs and other propositions are being set into place in an attempt to reduce the number of teenagers who vape.

“We want to educate people so they can make educated decisions,” Shue said.

Not only is vaping a health and safety concern, but it has also created many conflicts between students.

“It [vaping] seemed like it created tension between the kids going to the bathroom,” Shue said. “Some kids thought it was cool, but there were a whole bunch of kids who saw it as an annoyance.”

Instead of using the bathrooms just for their traditional purpose, teenagers will sometimes take a “bathroom break” as an opportunity to vape. As a response, the school installed vape detectors to try and prevent students from vaping in the bathrooms.

“It [vape detectors] has acted as a deterrent,” said Shue. “Once we put the vape detectors in, it helped with the attitude of the students and the frequency.

If students are caught vaping, they may be suspended regardless if they are of age to use tobacco products or not. Recently, a new penalty has been added to the possible consequences that students may face if they are found to be vaping in school.

A newsletter was emailed to parents/guardians and students by superintendent Dr. Scott Deisley about the new rules regarding tobacco products, and the enforcement policies that school districts are allowed to use. Governor Wolf signed House Bill 97 into law that states schools are now allowed to fine students and adults who use tobacco products on school grounds.

“Please understand that as of January 26, 2020 students and adults possessing nicotine delivery products on school property will be subject to summary citations and fines that may be in excess of $200. Fines for possessing THC or THC delivery products may result in greater fines and criminal consequences.”

Red Lion Area Senior High School administration has also been focusing on enrolling students who are found vaping in school into educational programs. In these sessions, students have conversations with the school social worker, Mrs. Brandy Shealer, about the harmful effects of vaping.

“I have worked with over 40 students so far this year,” Shealer said. “I am hoping to send out a survey at some point this year to gauge the impact the sessions have had.”

Vaping is currently not FDA approved and is not safer than smoking cigarettes. If you or someone you know is struggling with quitting, call this hotline 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help. Another option is to seek more information or help from Mrs. Shealer in room number C210 or to email her at shealerb@rlasd.net.

“I have seen a dramatic improvement from walking the halls and going into the bathrooms since they are both emptier,” Shue said. “From a number standpoint, vaping in school has decreased and fewer people are being caught on their second offense. I’m very happy with this outcome, however, there is still more improvement to be made.”

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