The Food and Drug Administration has called youth vaping an epidemic. E-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco product among high school students and they are on the rise with elementary children, so it’s no surprise that they’ve made their way onto school campuses. E-cigarettes are especially appealing to kids, and, since many look like everyday objects, they’re easy to hide. They also happen to be highly addictive and harmful. Fortunately, there are steps principals can take to combat vaping in their schools.
Adopt a comprehensive tobacco-free campus policy
You should specifically address e-cigarettes in your policy, but make sure they aren’t punitive. This isn’t as much a discipline issue as a rehabilitation one. Instead of exclusionary discipline like in-school suspension, consider having students participate in interactive educational sessions like INDEPTH. Schools also need to have programs and counseling available on-site to help kids quit and support them through that process. This K-12 model policy is a great place to start.
Teach kids about the harms of e-cigarette use
Young people often say that they choose vaping because they don’t think it’s as harmful as regular cigarettes, which is just plain wrong. Student education around vaping can take many forms: health information (sort of a Vaping 101), a social-emotional learning approach (focused on good decision-making), and/or peer-to-peer education. For support resources, check out the FDA’s “The Real Cost” Youth E-Cigarette Prevention Campaign.
Educate staff about vaping
Students share that it is fairly easy to discreetly vape in class, and that’s a huge problem. However, it can be mitigated with some staff training. All administrators, teachers, and staff should be familiarized with the different types of products on the market (some even look like watches!), the harm they cause to lungs and developing brains, and the susceptibility of adolescents to addiction.
Share information with parents
Parents are essential partners in the effort to combat vaping. The American Lung Association has provided a free conversation guide for parents, entitled “How to Talk to Your Kids About Vaping,” that you might consider distributing. Parent education nights can also be effective. Consider inviting local experts from the public health department, law enforcement, and/or doctors.
Install vaping sensors
Sensors allow you to increase safety without compromising privacy because you can put them in those places where you can’t install a camera, such as bathrooms and locker rooms. With the Extreme Network Integrated Vaping Solution, the HALO IoT Smart Sensors platform works with ExtremeCloud™ IQ to detect vaping, determine the area the event took place, and alert the proper personnel to handle the situation.