The Okaloosa County School District, in partnership with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, has launched an anti-vaping campaign to support high school students.
- The campaign was kicked off by Superintendent Marcus Chambers and Sheriff Eric Aden in a video message on the district’s social media accounts and website.
In the video, Chambers and Aden expressed their intention to help students make the right choices and deter them from vaping while educating families about the consequences of vaping on school property as outlined in Okaloosa County School Board Policy.
- A letter to parents will be sent home with all secondary students, posted on the website, and emailed to all parents in the district. Below is part of that letter.
“The US Surgeon General declared youth vaping a national epidemic in 2018,” wrote Chambers. “During the 2021-2022 school year, the number of reported vaping incidents in Florida schools nearly doubled from the previous year. In Okaloosa County, where the majority of our students make good choices every day, we are not immune to this crisis as we have seen a spike in the number of students possessing, distributing, and/or using electronic cigarettes on our campuses.”
The goal of the campaign is to educate students and families about the dangers of vaping and encourage them to make positive decisions that impact both their health and education.
- “The health and safety of students is our top priority in the district. I thank you in advance for being a partner with us to help our students make positive decisions and encourage you to speak with your child regarding this topic,” added Chambers.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 out of every 10 middle and high school students use electronic vaping products. Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor produced by an electronic vaporizer or electronic cigarette, which heats a liquid to generate an aerosol. The aerosol can contain harmful chemicals and particles that are inhaled deep into the lungs.
- Common additives used in these devices, depending on brand and type, may include nicotine, caffeine, cannabinoids (such as marijuana) and potentially other illicit drugs.
According to Chambers, school administrators often find that parents may not recognize the signs of vaping or the devices themselves. The liquids that are vaporized come in many different flavors and sometimes smell fruity, which may appeal to children.
The devices come in different shapes and sizes. Some common styles seen in local schools resemble a thick pen, a stylus for an iPad, or a USB flash drive. Some devices are disposable, while others require a refill cartridge. Because of their small size, they can easily be hidden on a person or blend in with a normal backpack or pencil case.
To deter students from vaping on campus, vape sensors are being installed in school restrooms. According to Chambers, if a student is found to be using, possessing, or distributing any tobacco or smoking device, the student will be subject to disciplinary action as outlined in School Board Policy, ranging from the Student Training Program (STP) to expulsion, depending on the content of the smoking device.
- “The goal of this campaign is not to be punitive, but to educate our students on the dangers of vaping and encourage them to make choices that have a positive impact on both their health and education,” wrote Chambers. “For those who are vaping, we will work with parents to provide educational resources and contacts for community agencies that may be able to provide assistance.”
Chambers added that “the health and safety of students is a top priority in the Okaloosa County School District.” If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Student Services office (850-833-3108) or your student’s school administrator.