This weekend, KATC received a tip from a parent who said that vaping was a big problem at her child’s high school.
We reached out to LPSS officials and they agree: Vaping is becoming a problem, and not just at one school; it’s a problem in several of Lafayette’s middle and high schools.
Vaping is handled just as cigarettes are at school, Assistant Superintendent Joe Craig tells us.
“In terms of discipline, the district codes vaping the same as the use of tobacco, so a student would be assigned to In-school suspension for a first offense,” Craig said. “If a student was caught selling vaping materials, that could result in a suspension or recommended expulsion depending on the details, and what was being sold.”
The 2019-2020 Student Handbook Committee already has had one discussion about vaping, Craig said.
“Our principals have shared me that they don’t think that’s a serious enough consequence on something that could impact the health and safety of our kids In all likelihood, the committee will recommend that the consequence for vaping be upgraded from in-school suspension to an out of school suspension, when the handbook is brought up for Board approval (April or May),” he said.
Craig added that the tobacco policy which deals with smoking on campus, currently forbids tobacco and the use of e-cigarettes. But the school board may also explicitly forbid JUULs in the handbook as well.
Craig says the district isn’t collecting specific statistics on vaping, but he believes it is becoming more of an issue in schools than traditional tobacco.
JUUL and other e-cigarette companies market their products as safe alternatives to regular cigarettes, but they’ve come under fire for marketing to minors. Last September, the FDA threatened to shut down the industry if they didn’t change their practices.
“Parents should talk to their child that these are not harmless products, they are chemicals that can damage the brain and can cause really untold health effects and we wont know for years to come,” said Dr. Tina Stefanski, the regional medical director for the Louisiana Dept. Of Health.
She said the long-term effects of this new trend, especially on teens and children, is still widely unknown.
“The liquids can contain really harmful chemicals, heavy metals, carcinogens which are chemicals that can cause cancer. This liquid is actually inhaled in fine particles into your lungs, so we don’t know what long-term consequences this will have on someone’s lungs,” said Dr. Stefanski.
For JUUL’s response to this article being posted, keep scrolling below.
A Penn State University Applied Research Center offers detailed information about vaping for parents. You can see the entire web page here.
Here’s some of the information:
Vaping, also known as JUULing, is becoming more popular with youth in middle school and high school. Vaping means using an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or other vaping device. It is referred to as vaping because tiny puffs or clouds of vapor are produced when using the devices. E-cigarettes are battery powered and deliver nicotine through a liquid (called e-juice), which turns into a vapor when using the devices. The liquid comes in flavors, such as mint, fruit, and bubble gum, which appeal to kids. Youth often believe that the liquid used in vaping only contains water and flavoring and are unaware that it contains nicotine. Therefore, they may think vaping is less dangerous than using other tobacco products, such as cigarettes. The amount of nicotine in the liquid can be the same or even more than the amount found in cigarettes.
Many types of e-cigarettes are available, but one popular brand is JUUL. JUUL is becoming more prevalent with youth in middle and high school because of its small size, and it looks like a USB device. When using a JUUL it is often referred to as JUULing.
Vaping and JUULing are not safe for kids.
Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and no amount of nicotine is safe. Nicotine is very addictive and can harm children and teens’ developing brains. Using nicotine can cause problems with learning and attention and can lead to addiction. Even being around others who use e-cigarettes and breathing the cloud they exhale can expose youth to nicotine and chemicals that can be dangerous to their health. Studies have also shown that kids who vape are more likely to use cigarettes or other tobacco products later in life.
The CDC also offers a tip sheet for parents who want to talk to their kids about e-cigarettes and vaping:
Minutes after this story went live on the KATC website, we got this unsolicited email from the JUUL company’s public relations department:
I saw that the new web article talks about our company and I wanted to offer a statement from us if it helps. Feel free to attribute directly to me or just a JUUL Labs spokesperson:
“JUUL Labs shares a common goal with policy makers, regulators, parents, school officials, and community stakeholders – preventing youth from initiating on nicotine. We are committed to preventing youth access of JUUL products, and no young person or non-nicotine user should ever try JUUL. We cannot fulfill our mission to provide the world’s one billion adult smokers with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes if youth use continues unabated. As we said before, our intent was never to have youth use JUUL products. We have taken dramatic action to contribute to solve this problem, which is why we implemented the JUUL Labs Action Plan to address underage use of JUUL products.
“We suspended the distribution of certain flavored JUULpods to traditional retail stores as of November 17, 2018, strengthened the age verification of our industry leading e-commerce site, eliminated our Facebook and Instagram accounts, and are developing new technology to further limit youth access and use. We are committed to working with lawmakers, the Surgeon General, FDA, state Attorneys General, local municipalities, and community organizations as a transparent and responsible partner in this effort.
“In addition, we strongly support raising the minimum purchase age for cigarettes, tobacco and vaping products to 21. We look forward to working with lawmakers at at the federal, state and local levels to achieve this end.”