Vaping, or e-cigs, are quickly becoming a problem in schools and school districts are racing to stay ahead of it.
They look cool, smell sweet, and come in all kinds of packaging. Their use is skyrocketing, especially among high schoolers by as much as 80 percent.
Germantown Municipal School District is taking its concerns directly to parents and students.
E-cigarettes, or vapes, aren’t all the same.
Some contain dangerous levels of nicotine, so when Germantown Schools saw an 11% increase in students who use e-cigs it decided to step-up warnings to parents and students.
State laws prohibit anybody under the age of 18 from buying e-cigarettes or vapes in Tennessee.
Fletcher Taber works at CreateAcig vape shop in Cordova. He’s 19 and has turned away peers looking to buy at his store.
“We’re trying to help people here and so because of that we have to black list you,” said Taber.
CreateAcig has stores across the South. David Pierce has worked at the store for nearly a year and explained the database of under-age people who attempt a buy.
“So if they go to any of our stores it automatically pops up as being black listed,” said Pierce.
Kids are buying the e-cigs elsewhere and in growing numbers, so schools are hiring people like Marcella Bianco to teach parents and students about the risks.
“The national data shows us that there were 1.5 million youths across the country using e-cigarettes or Juul from 2017 to 2018,” said Bianco.
“Recently with vaping and Juuling, I was to be specific that product is targeted towards children and that’s a concern for us,” said Germantown Schools Superintendent Jason Manuel. “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of students who participate in that type of behavior.”
There are misconceptions surround the Juul e-cigarette, so much so CreateAcig stopped carrying the product.
“They don’t think it’s harmful, said Bianco. “It smells good. They think it tastes good, but it has the nicotine, especially Juul has 5% nicotine all of them contain nicotine. There’s not one that doesn’t for Juul.”
The addition to the Germantown health curriculum is called “Catch a Breath” and is taught online.
The school district is also increasing punishments for kids who are caught vaping with the first offense starting with 3 days out of school suspension.