- The number of teens vaping increases every year, according to government data.
- The popularity of e-cigarettes has led to kids smoking during school, says some school officials.
- A Nebraska school district believes nicotine testing may prevent some teens from smoking.
The number of teens using electronic cigarettes grows every year, according to data from the National Institute of Health. The rise in vaping has led to an uptick of students sneaking puffs in locker rooms and bathrooms at schools in Fairbury, Nebraska reported NBC News. That's why school district officials have decided to conduct random nicotine tests.
Beginning this fall, 7-12 grade students who participate in after-school activities will randomly be chosen to take a urine test. Positive nicotine test results will lead to a 10-day suspension from extracurricular activities, according to a statement released by the district. Second-time offenders will sit out for 45 days and schedule an appointment with a certified substance abuse counselor or licensed mental health provider at their own cost. Those found with nicotine in their system three times will be barred from participating in extracurricular activities for 12 months.
"It's a huge problem, and right now, I think it's new enough that we're being very naive to think that more kids aren't doing it," Fairbury public schools superintendent, Stephen Grizzle, told NBC.
According to the National Institute of Health, roughly 37.3 percent of 12th graders said they vaped in the past 12 months during 2018. This was up from 27.8 percent who admitted to vaping in 2017.
Dr. Sharon Levy, pediatrician and director of the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program at Boston Children's Hospital, told NBC most teens don't realize that vaping is actually dangerous.
"The active ingredient in vapes is nicotine, but they're really different than cigarettes in the way that they deliver nicotine. They can deliver a much higher dose much faster," she said. "The worst part is, we really don't know what the long-term effects of such high doses of nicotine on the teenage brain are."
Of course not everyone supports the decision, but Grizzle says community response has been positive.
"We want to provide a safe, substance-free school as best we can, and we're just hoping that through the implementation of the policy, that we're helping students make the best decision," Grizzle told NBC.
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