At its meeting Tuesday, the Kansas State Board of Education discussed the possibility that college students are influencing those younger than them to begin using e-cigarettes.
One of the board members worried the students of a university in their district could be influencing high school and middle school students to vape. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) addressed this issue in a presentation to the board.
“I know that it’s very ramped on college campuses,” said Youth Prevention Program Manager Jordan Roberts. “[I]t’s what it takes to be cool and it’s accepted.”
This comes months after KDHE and the board established a Vaping Task Force in June, where its members quickly began working on ways to prevent this sudden escalation of student vaping. KDHE hopes to add representatives from colleges on the task force in the hope that they can not only target college-age students but also stop a possible influence towards younger students.
“That’s where it’s most prominent. Nobody over the age of 30 is really using this product,” Roberts said.
KDHE is partnering with the health insurance Blue Cross Blue Shield and is currently looking into pursuing a statewide vape prevention campaign that could also target college-age students, according to Roberts.
At the meeting the board also heard an update from the task force on what it has been doing to ensure students know vapes and e-cigarettes are dangerous to their health. They also approved new anti-vaping signs.
“The more you can delay that use or prevent that use, the more likely it is that you’re going to keep people from a lifelong habit of nicotine addiction,” said Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) Task Force leader Mark Thompson.
Anti-vaping signs were hung in middle schools and high schools around the state for the first day of school, according to board and task force member Michelle Dombrosky. Students have begun to notice them, including her eighth-grade and tenth-grade sons.
“[Their] eyes were just stunned with what they were seeing, like ‘I can’t believe this is happening, this is what vaping is doing. We were told it was safe, it’s not like cigarettes,'” Dombrosky said.
The task force recommends schools not to punish students who are caught vaping, but instead encourage counseling.