How Sarasota County schools are dealing with the teen vaping epidemic

How SCSD is dealing with the vaping epidemic among teens

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - E-cigarette use among high school and middle school aged students is being called an epidemic.

The Department of Health said locally more than 40 percent of high school aged teens say they have tried vaping. Sarasota County School District officials hope through educating both students and parents about the dangers of vaping they can help solve the issue.

The district has adopted a restorative and discipline program to educate students of the dangers of vaping and provide them with tips on how to quit. If a student is caught with an E-cigarette or another form of tobacco on campus, they do have to take an online course that talks about the dangers of the product.

E-cigarettes do come in flavors and have nicotine in them, which make them highly addictive. This makes them hard for teens to quit.

"That's the tricky part is by the students have started in middle school, often times by the time they're in high school they are addicted. And youth under 18, nicotine replacement therapy is not recommended. So youth will have to really rely on other methods to quit smoking," said Beth Kregenow, who is a Program Administrator with the Department of Health in Sarasota County.

Some methods for teens to quit vaping include relaxation and meditation.

Along with the addiction factor, E-cigarettes are not regulated, meaning when people are vaping it's unknown what chemicals they are inhaling.

Monitoring the use of E-cigarettes in schools can be hard because they are easy to hide and some of the brands, like JUUL, look like a USB.

"Some of the products they're very sleek and they're very innovative. So what a lot of schools are doing is making sure that the officers can look at backpacks. Kids can hide them in their hoodies, in their hoods, in their sleeves. They're very small and sleek so parents need to be aware of what they look like," Kregenow said.

E-cigarettes can impact brain development in teens and can lead to cancer. Because E-cigarettes are fairly new, it’s hard to know what the long term health impacts are.

Along with negatively impacting your health, there have also been cases of E-cigarettes exploding and starting fires.

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