Northeast High School students start group to discourage peers from vaping

Crawford County Health Dept. holds assembly

“I don’t think cigarettes have ever been a problem as long as I’ve been teaching as far as kids bringing them into school and using them at the extent that vaping is,” explains Northeast High School Principal Russ Cramer.

He says that there have already been issues with students bringing e-cigarettes to school this year.

“The majority, I feel like uses a JUUL or a vape, yeah,” says Cassidy Hegeman, a senior at the school.

According to the FDA in 2018, there are more than 3.6 million middle and high school students that use e-cigarettes nationwide.

There have also been more than 500 cases of vaping related illnesses across the country.

Many of which have been linked to vaping illicit THC products.

To address what they see as a growing problem, the Crawford County Health Department held an assembly at the school to talk about vaping.

“The percentage of youth that smoke has gone down drastically, but the youth that are using e-cigarettes, they are going up,” explains Hope Harmon, a nurse with the Crawford County Health Department. “They’re not safe, they do have hazards, they do affect our youth’s health.”

The health department also talked about “Resist,” a statewide student-led effort to lower tobacco use among Kansas teens.

Students are now putting together a Resist group, to discourage other students from using vapor products.

“It’s become a real problem, and students and even faculty, they may not even know what harm they are doing to their bodies,” says Eva Watson, a student at the high school and member of the Resist group.

Students KOAM talked to also think the FDA’s proposed flavor ban — something that vapers say would push many people back to cigarettes and create a black market — is a step in the right direction.

“Banning flavors is something that I think would be beneficial to not targeting younger groups,” says Cramer.

Resist is funded by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Tobacco-Free Kansas Coalition.

The school district does have a no-vaping policy, where a student can be suspended for three days for bringing an e-cigarette to school.

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