Students and E-cigarettes (Vape Pens)

Students and E-cigarettes
Posted on 12/21/2018
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Hello, Raider families, students, and staff.  Without question, we hope that you know that at Williamsburg Community Schools, we care deeply about the health and well-being of your children--our students.  We talk with our students about behavior and activities that can positively or negatively impact their health in the short term and in the long term, just as you do.  With the health and well-being of our students in mind, we wanted to write to you today to talk about a serious concern we have with the health of our students, and that is the use of e-cigarettes, or “vape pens.”  More and more, we’re hearing about kids “vaping”, and we’ve even found it to have occurred at school.

This isn’t just another letter about rules and handbook violations.  While we need kids to follow the guidelines of our school district while they are Raider students, this is also a letter encouraging you--begging you--to investigate the potential issues that “vaping” can present to your child--our student--and to talk with them about those negative effects, as well.  Vaping is an activity that is illegal for most of our kids, is against school rules for all of our kids, and based on the available research, doesn’t prepare their minds and bodies to be at their best, now or in the future.

What do we know about “vaping” and your child’s brain?

  • E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually has nicotine and flavoring in it, along with other additives. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes is addictive. E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products because most of them contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco.

  • Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including:

    • ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs

    • flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease

    • volatile organic compounds

    • heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead

  • Adolescent years are times of important brain development. Brain development begins during the growth of the fetus in the womb and continues through childhood and to about age 25. Nicotine exposure during adolescence and young adulthood can cause addiction and harm the developing brain.

  • E-cigarettes are very popular with young people. Their use has grown dramatically in the last five years.

  • E-cigarette use among youth and young adults is strongly linked to the use of other tobacco products, such as regular cigarettes, cigars, hookah, and smokeless tobacco.  Some evidence suggests that e-cigarette use is linked to alcohol use and other substance use, such as marijuana. And certain e-cigarette products can be used to deliver other drugs like marijuana.

  • The Surgeon General has a short web page that talks about the risks associated with e-cigarettes, and that page is linked here:

Is “vaping” against school rules or expectations?

Yes.  It is.  Board Policy 502.7 (Smoking-Drinking-Drugs) outlines the district’s position on cigarettes or “look-alike” substances, and e-cigarettes or vape pens fall into that category as well.  Students found to be vaping while on school grounds or at school events will face discipline just as they would if they were smoking a conventional cigarette, for example. Students involved in extracurricular activities face ineligibility for “vaping”, just as they might if they were in the presence of, consuming, or distributing alcohol.  

What can we all do to discourage students from “vaping?”

The U.S. Surgeon General has a document that we thought does a nice job preparing adults--parents or staff--for having a conversation with a child about vaping.  That document is linked here:

The web page isn’t very long, and it has some great tips on having a conversation with your child about a “tricky” subject:

  • Find the right time to start the conversation.

  • Answer questions your kids might have about e-cigarettes.  The document shares some ideas for how best to answer those questions.  You certainly don’t have to follow the document’s “script,” but it does give you some ideas to get your started.  

  • We certainly don’t want students using e-cigarettes at school, on school property, or outside of school for that matter.  With summer approaching, our students may have more free time, or unstructured time while you’re at work, or they are at work.  Either way, the Surgeon General and CDC have identified e-cigarettes as likely to have ill effects on our kids’ health. Please help us discourage kids from vaping at school or outside of school.   

  • The Surgeon General has another web page--that’s pretty short--that talks about sharing some of those risks with our kids, as well:

Please consider visiting with your child about this practice, and know that it has the potential to impact them in many ways, from their health to their eligibility for extracurricular activities.  In addition to this letter that summarizes some of the resources we’ve come across, we’ve attached several other documents that share what several different vape pens look like, and the chemicals that are a part of the “vapor” or aerosol that is inhaled.  You don’t need to read every one, but please consider taking a few minutes to review at least a couple of them to learn more about this growing trend in middle schools and high schools across the country.

Thanks, very much, for working with us to help kids make healthy, informed choices, both now and in the future.  For more information, please reach out to an administrator or school nurse, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions.  As always, Go Raiders!

Dave Widmer, principal
Lynell O’Connor, principal
Kelli McGuire, R.N.
Chad Garber, superintendent

Electronic Cigarettes Infographic.pdf
Juul one pager ASAC.pdf
Teachers and Parents_ That USB Stick Might Be An E-Cigarette.pdf
Health Advisory from Iowa Poison Control Central.pdf