KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) – Miami Valley teens are tackling the vaping epidemic head-on, educating their peers about the dangers of e-cigarette use. Wednesday some of those teens briefed the American Heart Association on their efforts.
Area students and school staff updated the Heart Association’s board on the efforts being made inside the classrooms to essentially save lives. The teens say students vape anywhere they can get away with it: in school or even at home, hiding it from their parents in plain sight.
Kellan Duffy goes to Northmont HS. He says, “I’ve seen people do it in the bathroom, at lunch, in the classrooms. Anywhere they cannot get caught, that’s where they’re doing it.”
The students say it’s seemingly everywhere. Northmont HS counselor Sheree Coffman says 50 students were caught vaping last year. “This is how kids are using it in class, they tuck it under their bracelets, and they can inhale right there.”
But Miami Valley students and schools are trying to turn the tide on the vaping epidemic through structured classes that start with peer-led education.
Coffman says, “I did the presentation, I did it for them. They said, ‘change this, take this out, that’s a stupid meme.’ It became more relevant through their feedback.”
The number of Northmont students caught vaping went down 70% this year. Over in Centerville, the education effort targets students at an early age. Beth Mires is Centerville High School’s Intervention Counselor. She says, “I think our middle schools, definitely. We’re starting a little bit younger. We’re weaving the curriculum more into the health classes.”
Kellan Duffy says, “We really talk to them about all those negative effects that all these chemicals are having.” Northmont’s peer facilitation team also reaches younger kids on their level. Duffy says, “We have this activity called the ‘long list’, where we roll out this giant piece of paper that shows all the chemicals that are in these products.”
Students say the tough battle is worth fighting. Northmont student Josh Hanssen says, “Some people just don’t care, but as long as we get some people to stop or never start, that’s something.”
Sheree Coffman says over a two-day span, every Northmont high school student went through the vaping awareness course. But she says it’s critical that parents also get smarter: about what vaping is, how teens try to get away with it, and most importantly how it harms them.