ARE YOUR KIDS VAPING? Resource officers saying use increasing here

Published 1:03 am Friday, February 22, 2019

Local school resource officers say they are cracking down on the vaping and e-cigarette use in high schools, which has reached epidemic levels across the nation.

Pleasant Home School Resource Officer Joe Schneider said that in the past few weeks, Juuling and e-cigarette use has increased at PHS.

“The usage is different at the different schools in the county,” Schneider said. “We started seeing it two months ago, but in the past three weeks we are seeing more and more kids Juuling.”

Schneider said that it is hard to catch students in the act of Juuling or vaping.

“Most of the time we are told by other students that their peers are Juuling,” Schneider said. “They are usually doing it in the bathroom, in the parking lot or even blowing the smoke in their shirt. It doesn’t smell like anything and it doesn’t put off a lot of smoke so it is tough to find.”

Most of the studentss and even some of the parents don’t know exactly what’s in a Juul pod, but Schneider said that he is going to incorporate information about the dangers of vaping into his D.A.R.E. classes.

“These kids have no idea what they are putting into their bodies,” Schneider said. “A lot of them don’t even think it is bad for you. We want to try and make them aware of the dangers of these Juuls so we will have some lessons in my D.A.R.E class. Just one pod of a Juul contains the same nicotine as one pack of cigarettes.”

Red Level High School resource officer Michael Bishop said that he has taken around eight to 10 Juuls from students this year.

“We are seeing more of it this year than last year and a lot of it is the e-cigarettes, especially the Juuls,” Bishop said. “The problem is that a lot of these students have more than one of them, so I will take them up and then not even thirty minutes later I will see them on Snapchat or Instagram smoking another one.”

Bishop said that it is not only on campus that they are smoking the Juuls.

“Obviously if they are smoking it on campus then they are smoking it in other places,” Bishop said. “The problem that we have seen is that kids are going to the bathroom during school to smoke these things. I mean, I’m not going to go into the girls bathroom so it is hard to patrol the bathrooms and catch them in the act.”

Though the epidemic is spreading, Bishop said that school officials are hard at work trying to educate students  on the dangers of the USB-shaped nicotine stick.

“Our school is being very vigilant on trying to cut down on these Juuls,” Bishop said. “Because a lot of the kids don’t realize the health problems. When you’re 16, your brain hasn’t stopped developing, so when you introduce the nicotine, it is not helping that at all. There is a reason there is an age limit on how old you have to be to buy the Juul.”

He said that the marketing strategies of these companies are not helping the problem.

“I go to the gas station every day and notice these Juul pods,” Bishop said. “And I see orange, mango and cream and I’m not saying it is strictly marketed to kids, but it isn’t the old-school tobacco. Kids are way more likely to get the flavors than that.”

Red Ribbon Week was one way that Bishop was able to educate the students about the dangers of Juuling.

“During Red Ribbon Week we did talk some about Juuling,” Bishop said. “We also just got a bunch of signs in that we are going to hang up in the bathrooms that say, ‘Can you actually believe that people come in here to put crap in their body.’ Peer Helpers are also going to have a program talking about Juuling before spring break.”

Before Christmas break, Straughn High School had an epidemic on their hands with Juuls.

SHS Resource Officer Heath Truman said that he took up 20 Juuls.

“It was truly an epidemic here,” Truman said. “It was like everywhere you looked a student was Juuling.”

Truman met with Covington County District Judge Julie Moody to seek ways to get a handle on the situation.

“I had to figure out a way to put a stop to it,” Truman said. “So what we figured out, is that there is a law under the minor in possession of tobacco that includes electronic cigarettes, so we have started issuing citations to students that are vaping.”

Since the kids were doing it everywhere in the school, Truman was on the lookout with the school’s camera equipment.

“Most of the kids were doing it in the bathroom and of course, I can’t go in there,” Truman said. “But a lot were doing it in the lunchroom so we caught them on camera and we are also receiving information from other students that come to us.”

Truman said that it is not a particular group of kids that are smoking the Juuls.

“You know how kids are, they get in groups like the preppy kids and the jocks,” Truman said. “But it isn’t like it is just one group of kids smoking, it is a mixture of all of them.”

Andalusia High School Resource Officer Jackie Woods, on the other hand, has not taken up many Juuls.

“I would say that I have taken up about two to three this year,” Woods said. “Nothing too bad.”

He doesn’t believe that there is enough on Juuling right now in the school.

“I do talk to the students about e-cigarettes, but I don’t think there is enough talking about it in the school itself,” Woods said. “One thing that is bad about e-cigarettes is that it is not a state law yet where it is illegal for an underage teen to be in possession of it. They can’t buy it, but they can walk around with it and not get in trouble if they are seen with one on the street.”