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Board’s pilot project reduces vaping on campus

School board plans to expand the program throughout the upcoming year
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A woman poses for a stock photo with her vape. Such a scene would not go over well in the washrooms at Almaguin Highlands. The alarm would tell all / Stock image

The Near North District School Board has found success in its plan to reduce student vaping on school grounds. A pilot project was implemented earlier this year, which included installing vape detectors within the washrooms at Almaguin Highlands Secondary School in South River.

Vaping? A vape, also known as an electronic cigarette is a device designed to simulate tobacco smoking. It has a container filled with liquid, and a small battery within turns that liquid to vapour instead of smoke. Hence, when someone is toking on the vape, the act is called vaping.

Most vapes contain nicotine and are addictive. The Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey from the federal government found that around 13 per cent of teens have vaped in the past 30 days, and of those, 60 per cent have never tried a cigarette in their life.

E-cigarettes are the choice of the new smoking (vaping) generation, and the survey discovered the kids are starting for the same reasons as the smokers who came before them – peer pressure, to deal with stress, and to rebel and be cool.

See: Ontario to add provincial tax to vaping products; meant to discourage youth uptake

The school board – especially those on the Safe Schools Team – noticed “the trend of youth vaping” was growing in our country “creating a negative impact on staff and students,” the board detailed in a report. Vaping was becoming an issue on school property, so the board took action to reduce the practice, while encouraging kids to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Vape detectors were installed in locker rooms and bathrooms. These are about the size of your average smoke detector, and range in cost from around $100 to $1,000. The higher-end models are mounted to the ceiling or wall. The school board received a provincial grant to equip Almaguin Secondary with detectors.

With the detectors deterring, the board also provided ongoing training to staff about all things vaping with help and information from the health unit. The board also reached out to parents to inform them about the topic.

The board also developed “a whole-school approach” to teaching students about the harm vaping can do. Those students who continued to get caught in the vaping act were offered addiction counselling and cessation programs as well to help wean them off nicotine.

Overall, the program “demonstrated great success” and the board plans to implement the strategy in other schools. The board has not yet announced which high schools will take part in the program, but it will continue throughout the upcoming year.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering civic and diversity issues for BayToday. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada
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