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Students can face serious consequences

Dangers of Vaping
Posted on 05/28/2019
vaping

If you think vaping is harmless, think again.

“Besides being very dangerous to your health, being caught with any type of vaping device on school property can lead to some very serious consequences, including steep fines issued by a tobacco enforcement officer and a suspension from school,” says Steven Bellaire, the WECDSB’s Safe Schools Principal.  “We are very concerned about the health and well-being of our students and staff, and are working hard to maintain a safe and healthy school environment in all of our schools.”

Despite those consequences, the use of e-cigarettes in this province is substantial with a 46 per cent increase among students in Grade 10-12 over the last two years, according to the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit at the University of Toronto.

It’s a trend that has caught the attention of health care experts as well as educators who are trying to educate their students on the dangers of vaping.

“With the influx of new flavours geared towards children and youth, it has become a real problem trying to keep them out of the hands of our students,” said Bellaire, noting that many of the products are flavoured to taste like cotton candy or milkshakes and have innocuous sounding names like Frosty Sprinkles and S’mores.

“So much of it is geared to youth,” said Bellaire, who recently delivered a presentation on the subject to a group of elementary students. “You are money to these people,” is what he told them. “They’re not concerned about your health or wellness. You are a consumer and they are going to try to get you to use their product.”

“That product can cause serious harm,” he added.

Many of the oil cartridges in e-cigarettes contains as much nicotine as a full pack of cigarettes. Vaping by youth increases the likelihood of addiction to nicotine, which is known to alter adolescent brain development and can affect memory and concentration. Use of a vaping device increases the risk of heart disease, and using e-cigarettes every day almost doubles the risk for heart attack, according to a recent article in the American Journal for Preventive Medicine.

According to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, vaping is not allowed in schools, on the grounds of a school, or anywhere within 20 metres of a school’s perimeter. Anyone over the age of 16 can be fined $305 for violating the act, while a Justice of the Peace can set a fine for anyone under 16. Anyone convicted of violating the act can face a fine of $1,000 for a first offence, and $5,000 for any subsequent violations.

Students can also be suspended for vaping.

“You can be suspended for a day just for having a vape in your possession at school,” said Bellaire. “That suspension can be multiple days if you’re caught using it.”

The WECDSB is trying to educate students about the consequences of vaping by incorporating information about it into such programs as VIP (Values, Influences and Peers), which is aimed at Grade 6 students as well as the BRAD (Bullying, Relationships, Alcohol and Drugs) program, which is taught to Grade 9 students.  The Health and Physical Education curriculum also speaks to the dangers of tobacco, nicotine and addiction.

Relying on enforcement of the act is also part of the strategy, Bellaire added.

“Every school has a tobacco enforcement officer assigned by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit,” he said. “Schools can call them if they’re noticing increased use of vaping devices, but they can also show up unannounced and issue fines to students.” 

“This is a challenge that will require the efforts of staff, students and parents to raise awareness in order to shift the culture of students vaping both at school and in the community.”

Check out these important resources on the dangers of vaping.

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