With greater than 1 / 4 of Sumner County highschool college students admitting that they’ve tried vaping, the possibilities are probably that a lot of these college students have grow to be hooked on the digital gadgets.
Until lately, nevertheless, the varsity district’s Tobacco-free coverage targeted solely on prohibiting the gadgets, together with tobacco merchandise, with out addressing find out how to assist college students give up utilizing them.
That modified on March 22 when the Sumner County Board of Education voted unanimously to undertake an amended Tobacco-free coverage because of the efforts of 4 Beech High School college students.
The effort to alter the coverage began a number of months earlier when Hadley Brown, Ella Paligo, Nahzah Blair and Niya Angelova, all juniors at Beech, had been named ambassadors to the Tennessee Department of Health’s TN STRONG (Tennessee Stop Tobacco and Revolutionize Our New Generation) program within the fall of 2020.
The youth-led group is dedicated to elevating consciousness of the hazards of tobacco and associated merchandise and preventing the tobacco business’s affect on younger individuals.
Shortly after being named to the statewide group, the teenagers heard a scholar from one other college district discuss pushing her county college system to undertake a common tobacco and vaping coverage.
“Immediately we located and sat down with a printed copy of the Sumner County tobacco and vaping policy,” recalled Brown. “We were looking for gaps. What isn’t covered? Where are the loopholes?”
Key areas which can be generally neglected of Tobacco-free college insurance policies are parking heaps, stadiums, after-hour consumption, and occasions when college students are representing the varsity off-campus, she famous.
“A universal tobacco and vaping policy has no gaps or loopholes. The use of tobacco and vape products are completely forbidden,” Brown added.
After working intently with Board of Education employees and the Sumner Prevention Coalition, Brown and her fellow ambassadors offered a proposed common coverage to high school board members on Jan. 18.
Their presentation included statistics gleaned from Sumner County college district surveys.
Twenty-six p.c of highschool college students say they’ve used vapes or e-cigarettes whereas 16 p.c stated they’ve used tobacco in different varieties like cigarettes or smokeless tobacco merchandise, Brown informed board members. Fourteen p.c of center college college students say have tried vapes or e-cigarettes, whereas 10 p.c stated they’ve tried tobacco in different varieties.
“We realized that vaping is occurring younger and younger in students. How do we stop that? That is the root of our mission,” stated Brown. “We focused on vaping because it’s more prevalent, but our goal is to stop this as a whole.”
Angelora famous that the scholars wished the board to undertake a coverage that focuses on rehabilitation reasonably simply disciplinary and punitive measures.
“Discipline should include referral to cessation resources or programs such as the Tennessee Tobacco Quitline,” the amended coverage states. “The district will consult with the county health department and other appropriate health organizations to provide students and employees with information and referral to support systems, programs and services to encourage them to abstain from the use of tobacco products.”
“We know a lot of students caught are trying to quit,” Blair informed board members. “We want to give them the resources and the opportunity to have it taken off their record.”
“Vaping really is an epidemic and a public health crisis so that’s what we’re learning,” stated Paligo. “There have been teens who have lost their lives to vaping. We just want to keep these kids alive and healthy.”
Several college board members applauded the ladies’ efforts.
“This is amazing,” stated Betsy Hawkins, who represents District 6. “To show this kind of care for your fellow students… and to actually do something about it.”
District 7 college board member Andy Daniels stated he appreciated the scholars’ need to teach elementary and center college college students earlier than they struggle tobacco or vaping merchandise.
“Thank you very much for all of your advocacy,” he stated.
School board members voted unanimously to cross the amended coverage on second studying on March 22.
Sumner County Schools Communications Director Jeremy Johnson credited the Beech college students for bringing the problem to the board.
“They were very influential in getting this policy changed,” stated Johnson. “The main difference is the education component. It’s not enough to be punitive about vaping. It’s highly addictive so just punishing people misses that piece of trying to get them some help.”