ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Food and Drug Administration is calling vaping a national epidemic targeting children as young as 13.
Researchers say more than 5 million teens and children are vaping in the United States.
A national survey, conducted earlier this year, shows an estimated 28 percent of high school students and 11 percent of middle school students used e-cigarettes within the past month.
Now, the Carter County school system is creating a new policy with new punishments for kids caught vaping.
Currently, Carter County Schools has a policy for nicotine-related products and e-cigarettes, but Director of School Service Danny McClain said a vaping-specific policy was needed given the recent attention vaping has brought both locally and nationally.
“It seems like, on a daily basis, if not daily, at least on a weekly basis, we’re dealing with some vaping issues,” said McClain.
McClain said these vaping issues have been seen at several schools in the system.
“In meeting with administration, principals, teachers, there was a thought process that we needed to get together and create a new policy, something that specifically addressed vaping, as well as, maybe more of a deterrent for vaping,” he said.
In order to deter students from vaping, McClain said the policy will include different levels of discipline. It would be in effect at any school related event or function.
A first offense would involve a three day suspension, a warning by an SRO and a parent/gauardian meeting. A second offense would result in a five-day suspension, a citation from the SRO and a meeting. A third offense would result in nine-day suspension, citation and meeting. A fourth offense would result in long-term placement at Siam Learning Center, an alternative school in Elizabethton.
Dr. Hadii Mamudu, an associate professor with ETSU’s College of Public Health, is an expert on vaping risks and the lead author of an editorial on vaping risks in the American Journal for Public Health.
“One out of four high school students and middle school students are currently vaping,” said Dr. Mamudu.
That is according to the latest national numbers.
In a study involving high school students in the region, he found about 11 percent of high school students vaped, compared to about 8 percent who smoke cigarettes. About one in three students reported vaping before.
“As the student moves through the educational system from middle to high school, the use of vaping products or e-cigarettes goes up,” said Dr. Mamudu.
Carter County school leaders hope to prevent that.
“I think vaping has some serious consequences for students, but the other concerning thing is, I’m not sure we even know what the future consequences of vaping may be,” said McClain.
If approved at the school board meeting Thursday night, the policy should be implemented when school resumes in January.
We reached out to other school systems in the area about their vaping policies. Johnson City Schools notify parents and hand out citations for failure of students to meet their policy. Kingsport City Schools give out in-school suspensions and confiscate vaping devices. If the student is under 18, they also receive a citation.