Vaping policy added to handbook
The 2019-20 student handbook for the Saucon Valley MS has been approved. There was one change involving the policy on smoking, tobacco and vaping. Assistant Principal Amy Braxmeier was on hand to update the board. Per the 2018-19 handbook it states “smoking and tobacco use and possession are prohibited in school buildings, on district property, and any other jurisdiction 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
School district property includes playgrounds, parking lots, athletic fields and stadiums.” Under the 2019-20 it will specifically mention vaping even though vaping has been prohibited because it falls under tobacco products. Vaping is not just a growing concern at Saucon, but all the school districts in the Lehigh Valley.
Numerous published statistics continue to show vaping is on the rise among middle school and high school students. According to the American Heart Association, “vaping is now the most common form of tobacco use by kids and teens. In 2018, vaping by high school students in the U.S doubled from the previous year.” According to the centeronaddiction.org, “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.” These devices often contain nicotine and other chemicals associated with lung disease and cancer. Another common vaping product that has become very popular with teens is the juul. This popularity in part is due to the different flavors offered that range from cream, fruit, candy, drink and desert flavors. Another aspect to its popularity for teens is its small size (about the size of a usb flash drive) which makes it more easily concealable.
At Saucon, if a student possesses or uses any tobacco related product, they are subject to a $50 fine or the fee can be waived if the student takes a smoking cessation education program instead.
Board member Dr. Shamim Pakzad asked Braxmeier if this is a one time fine or if the fine is progressive if the student is caught again. According to Braxmeier the fine is the same each time the student is caught. Braxmeier said the smoking cessation program is an eight- week program and they encourage students to go that route. Pakzad also asked Braxmeier how many students were caught. According to Braxmeier, she believes it was around 9 or 10 that were found to either possess or used tobacco products this past year at the middle school. According to Braxmeier, “the problem is there and it exists and we’re working at eliminating it, but it is a problem.”
Braxmeier said they are continually attempting to educating faculty and students on the dangers, and that back to school nights provide an opportunity to talk to parents about the issue. Braxmeier got to the heart of the matter when she said students often perceive vaping as not smoking and she said, “they really do think it’s safe.”