ACHS, similar to many other schools in the area, is concerned about incidents involving student vaping. Complicating this issue is that there is varying information and misunderstandings involving vaping and/or electronic cigarettes. The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the issue, give you resources if you feel your student is involved in this kind of behavior, as well as alert you to repercussions if your child engages in vaping on school property. We take this issue very seriously due to the negative health effects vaping can have on our students and often find that our parents are often not aware of the risks around vaping and what the devices may look like.
Vaporizers/e-cigarettes come in all different shapes. Some common styles look like a thick pen, a stylus for a iPad, a flash drive, or a small flask with a round chimney coming off the top. The devices are very small and can easily be hidden on a person or blend in with normal backpack items. The nicotine juices for these items are often fruit flavored. Like cigarettes, stores cannot sell vaping items to people under the age of 18. However, students report that they purchase the devices online or buy from older siblings, friends, or unfortunately even parents.
When students vape on school property it can be due to an addiction to nicotine they have developed, a peer pressure issue, or they are simply curious and want to try it out. In any case, vaping in school (or at a school sponsored activity) or being in possession of a vape will result in a possible suspension for the student and removal from a school sponsored activity. In addition, students in extracurricular activities will face consequences as outlined in the activity handbook.
The Surgeon General reports that nicotine is addictive and can harm brain development, which continues until about age 25. We know that using nicotine may make it harder for school related tasks such as learning and concentration. In conversations with students, it appears that many are not aware of the harmful effects of vaping. Students either say they use nicotine-free liquid or that it is safer than tobacco cigarettes.
Here are two helpful resources that you can use to talk to your kids about vaping. The first is the Surgeon General’s 2016 report on on e-cigarette use. The second is a fact sheet and parent tip sheet. If you feel your child has already developed an addiction to nicotine, we suggest you reach out to your health care provider.
We hope you find this letter informative and understand our concerns about this potentially harmful issue. Our goal is to partner with parents to help support our students in making positive decisions for themselves and the high school community. We encourage you to have a conversation with your child(ren) about this topic. As we learn more, we will certainly share that information. Thank you for your continued support of our school system.
ACHS Admin Team