January 9, 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians:

The use of e-cigarettes, often called “vaping” or “juuling” is increasing among teens nationwide. Calling it an epidemic, the FDA states that the rate of teen vaping has gone from 1 in 10 in 2017 to 1 in 5 by late 2018.  They also state that 80% of high school students perceive no great risk of harm. 1 At Saint Joseph High School, the health and safety of our students is very important to us. Thus, we are initiating a campaign to educate students and parents about e-cigarettes and vaping with the goal of deterring students from using e-cigarettes in any form.  
E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol. Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes or pipes, while others look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items. 2  Vaping presents several challenges for schools and parents in that the devices, such as a Juul, can be very small and ordinary looking and that the vapor dissipates quickly and leaves little trace after exhaling. Even the small chargers that power the vaping device plug into USB ports and are easy to overlook.
The CDC 2 states that e-cigarettes are unsafe for teens and lists the basic risks as follows:

  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. According to the manufacturer, a single Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.
  • E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine (including heavy metals, cancer-causing chemicals, and substances that affect the lungs).
  • Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
In January, Saint Joseph High School will begin a campaign via video announcements, posters/flyers, and other messages from administration, faculty, staff, and students aimed at educating students about the risks and harmful effects of e-cigarettes. Click here to see one of the short videos we will use. Through our counselors and nurse, we will offer support to students who have questions or who may be vaping and need help quitting.  We will also be vigilant in supervising classrooms, hallways, restrooms, and other areas in order to deter students from vaping on campus.   

Our Student/Parent Handbook, Section 9, outlines school policies regarding these issues. Students who are vaping or in possession of vaping devices at school will be given consequences, including detention or suspension. The Athletic Code of Conduct will also be enforced and thus students in violation may be suspended from participation. Our main concern is that our students make healthy choices about what goes into their bodies and good decisions regarding their future at Saint Joe and beyond.

We encourage you to talk to your student(s) about the health risks and consequences of vaping/juuling, and to be vigilant in looking for devices or signs that they are vaping. The material linked below is meant to help you prepare for such conversations. We hope this information leads to good, healthy discussions with your students, and we thank you for your support.

453 N. Notre Dame Ave.
South Bend, IN 46617