Welcome to the first of a series of topics which I will share with our community. The purpose of these "spotlights" on various matters is to inspire dialogue within our community. I foresee the topics covering educational matters, concerns surrounding health and safety, student and community progress and inspiration, or even at times topics that are more lighthearted.
Today, I would like to discuss a very serious and life-altering topic. The use of electronic cigarettes, or "vaping" as it is more commonly called, is having life-impacting effects on hundreds throughout the United States. As I am sure many of you saw on news outlets recently, hundreds are struggling with their lives and it is believed the common factor is the usage of e-cigarettes.
U.S. health officials are urging people to
until they figure out why some are coming down with serious breathing illnesses. Officials have identified about 450 possible cases, including at least five deaths, in 33+ states. The count includes newly reported deaths in
The New York Times wrote: “There is clearly an epidemic that begs for an urgent response,” Dr. David C. Christiani of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health wrote in an editorial published on Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine. The editorial called on doctors to discourage their patients from using e-cigarettes and for a broader effort to increase public awareness about “the harmful effects of vaping
I bring this information to you today because vaping is an epidemic that schools have been struggling with for the past few years. These devices have been marketed to our youth and regretfully, the marketing has been quite successful. Although the District provides health education on the harmful effects of vaping and imparts consequences when students are vaping on school grounds, these actions only assist partly in our charge to discourage students from this act.
The district has seen students in all grade levels -- yes, even in elementary schools -- who have access to vaping devices. Many times these devices can look like a computer “flash-drive. I encourage those with children to have active conversations and be aware of devices and packaging which may be related to JUUL, or other electronic cigarettes.
- Presence of vaping equipment or related product packaging
- Unusual online purchases or packages
- Smelling faint odors of mint, fruit, bubble gum or chocolate cake
- Increased thirst or nose bleeds
- Decreased caffeine use
- Use of vaping lingo in text messages or on social media
- Appearance and/or behavior changes
I encourage you as parents, guardians and community members to speak with our youth about the harmful effects of vaping. Be familiar with what the devices look like, as there are many variations of electronic cigarettes, and vaping devices. If you have questions or concerns that your child may be vaping please notify your child's school and/or physician.
Johannah Vanatta, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools