District Administration May 2018 - 16
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Administrators have closed or increased
monitoring of school bathrooms. They
have sent students for drug tests. They
have even banned USB thumb drives.
These actions reflect the wide range of
responses district leaders have taken to
curb the alarming increase in students'
use of vaping devices and e-cigarettes.
"We're very concerned that the emergence of e-cigarettes could undermine
the progress we've made in reducing
tobacco use, and could put a new generation at risk of nicotine addiction,"
says Vince Willmore, vice president for
communications at the Campaign for
Educators and experts appear most
concerned about the JUUL vaping
device, which is designed to look just
like a computer thumb drive. It can be
recharged with a laptop's USB port, and
there is anecdotal evidence that students
have used them to vape while in class.
"It comes in flavors like fruit medley
and crème brûlée that appeal to kids,"
Willmore says. "And it gives a very
strong hit of nicotine-according to the
manufacturer, each JUUL pod contains
nicotine equal to a pack of cigarettes."
'A culture of acceptance'
At Jonathan Law High School, part of
Milford Public Schools in Connecticut,
administrators have reduced vaping by
limiting bathroom use to one facility for
boys and one for girls. A staff member
sits outside and observes who enters and
leaves, says Annaliese Spaziano, the district's supervisor of student development.
District surveys of seventh-,
ninth- and 11th-graders have showed
increased vaping use in both high
school and middle school, she adds.
The district now details the dangers
16 May 2018
School crackdown on vaping
of vaping in its wellness curriculum,
which also includes guiding students
to make better choices around vaping,
smoking and substance abuse.
"Students feel, because it's not a
cigarette and it's vapor instead of smoke,
that it's less harmful," Spaziano says.
"It creates a culture of acceptance. Plus,
there are lots of cool, fun flavors that
appeal to the younger generation, which
is really scary."
Milford's school resource officers
have led PD sessions where teachers
learn to spot the various devices. Community groups in the city have held
similar sessions for parents.
In future surveys, the district intends
to get a better understanding of how
students are obtaining the devices,
whether that's through the internet or
from older friends or siblings, she adds.
Federal action needed?
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
hopes the federal government will take
stronger action to restrict sales of the
devices, such as raising the legal purchasing age to 21 (as is the law in five states
and several hundred communities).
The Campaign also would like to see
more stringent age verification on websites that sell the devices, Willmore says.
Finally, the FDA should immediately review all of these products and
ban any that appeal to minors. Federal
law bans sale of flavored cigarettes,
with the exception of menthol, he adds.
"E-cigarettes are sold in thousands
of flavors-gummy bears, cotton
candy," Willmore says. "There's clear
evidence that flavor plays important
role in kids using tobacco products."
A new sensor that can detect the vapor
offers another solution. The device,
produced by Soter Technologies, can
be placed in bathrooms, locker rooms
and other areas where cameras are prohibited, and where students are likely
to vape. When the sensor detects the
volatile organic compounds emitted by
e-cigarettes or vaping, an alert is sent
to designated school personnel. The
device also detects increases in sound
that could be associated with students
fighting or bullying, says Steve Schmid,
Soter's vice president of marketing.
In some schools, students have
tried to tamper with the sensors even
though the devices don't have the
company's name or any identifying
logos, Schmid adds.
"Prevention starts with detection,"
he says. "This is all about the practical
application of technology to detect and
deter for safer and healthier schools."
- Matt Zalaznick
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