The Corbin Independent Schools is working to put together a series of informational forums at the end of February regarding “vaping,” it’s possible dangers, and prevalence in the school system.
School Superintendent Dave Cox said the school system decided to get on top of the issue after evidence of students vaping at Corbin Middle School and Corbin High School has been discovered.
“The best defense we have is to educate folks,” Cox said. “We are finding the cartridges where kids are, so we know they are doing it.”
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease.
Relatively little research has been done on the health effects of vaping.
Tom Greer, Director of Safety and Pupil Personnel for the school district, said Elizabeth Anderson-Hoagland, a Policy Analyst with the Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program, would facilitate the forums.
“When we talk to our principals in our district, they just see it as starting to be a problem or an issue,” Greer said. “We are just trying to do some kind of awareness for our kids so they know the dangers of vaping, and some of the effects it may have on you.”
Anderson-Hoagland said e-cigarette use in the targeted age group is growing at an alarming rate.
“We know e-cigarette use has increased 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students in one year. This is an unprecedented increase in tobacco use among youth. Looking at these statistics, it’s no wonder the Surgeon General has declared youth e-cigarette use an epidemic,” she said. ““Parents should know that e-cigarette use is not harmless. E-cigarette aerosol contains toxic and cancer-causing chemicals, as well as nicotine, an addictive drug. Furthermore, teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become regular cigarette users later on in life.”
She added that she looks forward to educating Corbin students and parents about the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.
“This forum is a great opportunity for parents and community members to share their concerns about e-cigarettes and to hear factual answers from experts in the field. We know that no single person or organization can solve this problem; it’s going to take all of us working together. I’m so happy to be in Corbin with people who are passionate about youth e-cigarette use. Together we can make a difference.”
Both Cox and Greer said of particular concern is a brand of vaping products called “Juul.” The e-cigarette is small and appears similar to a USB flash drive, making it easily concealed. The company was also recently criticized by officials with the federal Food and Drug Administration for offering flavored vape mixture cartridges, or “pods,” that seem to appeal to younger users — like mango and cotton candy.
“Some of the teachers think they’ve seen some of the Juul ones at the high school,” Greer said. “We need to be on the cutting edge out there and educate our kids on those things before, all of the sudden, everybody is doing it and we look back and wished we would have done something sooner.”
Greer said that, by no means, is the problem unique to Corbin Schools. He said he believes there is a pervasive attitude that vape is a safe alternative to traditional tobacco products.
“I do think there is a false sense of security,” Greer said. “Anything you inhale into your lungs that’s chemical or tobacco, it can’t be good for you.”
There will be a series of four forums on Feb. 28.
Students at Corbin Middle School will assemble in the gymnasium for their forum at 10:00 a.m. Corbin High School will have a pair of student forums in the auditorium at 1:00 p.m. and 2:10 p.m.
A forum open to the entire community will take place in the CHS auditorium at 6:00 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend.