Vaping on the rise, but not condoned, at Wilton High School
Vaping — the use of e-cigarettes, vape pens and e-hookahs — has become “an activity that is increasing” among Wilton High School students, according to a message to parents recently posted on the school’s website.
A vaping device heats a liquid — which usually contains nicotine, flavoring and other additives — into an aerosol, which the user inhales into the lungs.
Principal Robert O’Donnell told The Bulletin that there have been instances of students vaping or having the devices on them in school, but “not a lot.”
Still, O’Donnell said, he thought sharing information with parents about vaping would be “the right thing to do,” considering that the use of vaping devices has been growing among adolescents.
According to the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the use of these devices has grown among middle and high school students nationwide.
Not only has young people’s use of e-cigarettes grown “dramatically” in the last five years, according to the surgeon general’s website, but their use is higher among high school students than adults.
“We wanted to provide the information and send the message that we don’t condone it, that we want to support our students and our families, and we want to keep the students healthy,” said O’Donnell.
O’Donnell said the decision to post the message for parents came from “a confluence of things.”
“I was having a conversation with a staff member here and we were talking about the possibility of finding information to educate the parent community about vaping and the extent to which students might be doing it,” he said.
Around that same time, school nurses provided information on the subject, said O’Donnell, “so it was really a joint effort.”
O’Donnell said vaping is “certainly not something” the school supports and it’s “against school rules.”
Not only is it prohibited in school, but it would also be considered a crime under state law if the student in possession of the device was under the age of 18.
In late 2014, a new state law (Public Act No. 14-76) went into effect, making it illegal for minors to buy or publicly possess an “electronic nicotine delivery system” or “vapor product,” and for anyone to sell, give, or deliver one to a minor.
“We have our policies and practices here that we implement,” said O’Donnell, but if someone under the age of 18 was in possession of a vaping device, he said, “we would refer it to our SRO [school resource officer] Rich Ross and see if they [the police] want to pursue it.”
To learn more about vaping and e-cigarettes, visit e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov.