The Vaping Epidemic
Vaping is on the rise amongst teens across the country and the data from the 2018-19 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Study shows that over 55% of our high school students and 31% of our 7th and 8th grade students have tried vaping at least once. At the state level, 58% of high school students and 28% of 7th and 8th grade students report that they have tried vaping at least once. While many of our students report they have experimented with these devices, most are not current users.
The Surgeon General has stated that we should protect our children from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated health risks by immediately addressing the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.
E-Cigarettes: 5 Facts You Need to Know
- 99% of e-cigarettes sold in U.S. convenience stores contain nicotine.
- Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development, which continues until age 25.
- E-cigarette aerosol can contain ultrafine particles and cancer-causing chemicals.
- Youth who use e-cigarettes are 4 times more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
- The long-term health effects of e-cigarette use are unknown.
There are now 18 reported deaths nationwide due to mysterious lung illnesses tied to vaping and vaping products.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced that they will implement emergency administrative rules starting on October 22, 2019 to temporarily prohibit the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products, including flavored nicotine, THC, and CBD vaping products, in-store and online.
What have we done as as school community to address vaping?
In our school district, we address vaping and substance abuse in our Health and Physical Education Curriculum starting in the 6th grade. This curriculum is created in coordination with our partners at Providence St. Patrick Hospital’s Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) program. We also have clear district policy prohibiting the use of any tobacco products, including vapor products, on any of our campuses - including our parking lots and playfields. This prohibition extends to everyone - including students, parents, community members and fans of sporting events.
Several of our middle and high schools have hosted all-school assemblies and parent education nights in coordination with the American Lung Association or the City County Health Department and Project Success Counselors about the perils of vaping and substance abuse.
What are the consequences of a student at Missoula County Public Schools possessing, using or selling tobacco products on campus?
When students are caught with tobacco products (including vapor products) in our schools, they are subject to school discipline as well as criminal charges of Minor in Possession which carry fines and other legal consequences.
For information regarding Missoula County Public Schools Board policies, visit the MCPS policy webpage.
Students who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action as described within the Student Code of Conduct found in each school’s Student Handbook.
What can you do?
- Educate yourself about e-cigarettes and vapor products. These are helpful resources from the Office of Public Instruction and the Montana Department of Public Health:
- Be aware of the signs of vaping:
- Fruity aroma - most e-liquids have flavors like mint, vanilla, and fruit punch.
- Unfamiliar hand-held gadgets - like pens, Juuls (specific brand popular with students that can resemble a computer memory stick).
- Increased thirstiness - some of the chemicals in e-cigarettes cause dry mouth.
- Different batteries and chargers - vaporizers need to be charged, most use a USB cable or plug directly into a USB port.
- Discarded atomizers, cartridges,and pods - the atomizers turn the e-juice into vapor and are rechargeable and eventually disposable.
- Unaccounted expenditures of money - these products are not cheap.
- Continue to have conversations with your child/children about the dangers of vaping and other forms of drug use.
- In an effort to help students quit the use of electronic cigarettes Montana has partnered with nine other states to launch enhanced tobacco cessation programs for teens called, My Life, My Quit. Teens can text or call a toll-free number (1-855-891-9989) dedicated for teens, or they can visit mylifemquit.com for real-time coaching. Through the program, teens work with a coach who listens and understands their unique needs, provides personalized support, and helps them build a quit plan to become free from nicotine.