After years of successful programs aimed at reducing teen smoking, a new generation of our students are now challenged with resisting a wide variety of vaporized tobacco and marijuana products. Student use of e-cigarettes and vaping in school has become a nation-wide problem, and it is no different here in Ukiah Unified schools. The use of these products by our students presents serious health, academic, safety, and legal problems. We take this seriously at Ukiah Unified School District because we want a safe and healthy learning environment for our students.
Now more than ever, children need our help to resist a new barrage of big tobacco marketing and flavors aimed directly at them. According to a public health organization called Truth Initiative, the Juul brand of e-cigarettes has become so popular among young people that it has gained almost half of the market in just two years. Research recently conducted by the same group found that around 63 percent of Juul users aged 15-24 did not even know the product contained nicotine. A USC study suggests that teens who would never smoke are now vaping. Education is critical if we want our children to be able to make healthy choices.
The specific health risks of vaping are still being researched, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, e-cigarettes and vaping are harmful. They can lead to nicotine addiction and increased risk for addiction to other drugs. Vaping exposes the lungs to a variety of chemicals added to e-cigarettes and other chemicals produced during the vaporizing process. The Surgeon General has warned that the aerosol in e-cigarettes contains nicotine, ultrafine particles, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds.
At UUSD, our efforts have been aimed at education. We have taught students at the secondary level about the dangers and consequences of vaping or smoking. Soon you will see more communication as we roll out new programs aimed at reducing these behaviors. We have educated our staff about the detection of vaping products at school and have policies in place to deal with discipline for vaping. When necessary, we utilize Jack, our detection dog.
Our students have a lot to think about in order to perform at their best, and we don’t want vaping to be one of them. As a parent of three children in our schools, I have the same concerns as many of you have regarding vaping. There are many tips out there for parents on how to combat this problem. As you may have already guessed, communication is vital. Please talk to your students about the dangers of vaping nicotine or marijuana.
Here are some more tips to combat vaping and e-cigarettes:
- Make sure your kids know that you don’t allow vaping and e-cigarettes.
- Communicate with your kids about the pitfalls of vaping and e-cigarettes. Let them know there are consequences and what they are.
- Talk with your kids about how to resist peer pressure.
- Maintain open dialogue about vaping and e-cigarettes with your kids. It’s never too early, start in Kindergarten!
- It’s expensive! Help your kids calculate the weekly, monthly, and yearly costs associated with vaping and e-cigarettes.
- Set a good example by not vaping or smoking in front of your kids. Establish a vape-free home, car, and workplace.
- Understand the attraction to use vape products and talk with your kids about tobacco and marijuana marketing.
We can win the battle against vaping in our schools if we all work together. Please help us by starting a conversation with your student today! If you need more information or need advice on how to quit vaping or smoking, please visit drugfree.org, smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. You can always talk with your school site administrator or counselor for some help talking with your student about vaping.