Kansas State Board Confronts Youth Vaping
Between 2011 and 2018, the number of U.S. high school students using electronic cigarettes rose from 220,000 to more than 3 million students. Middle schoolers saw an increase from 60,000 to 570,000 students during the same period. Because of their increasing popularity and device designs that mimic USB flash drives, these vaping products pose a unique challenge to schools as they try to protect students from addiction.
Nicotine, the active ingredient in most e-cigarettes, harms parts of the brain responsible for memory, attention, and learning. Additionally, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in the flavors, some of which also include THC. About four in five U.S. middle and high school students were exposed to e-cigarette advertisements from at least one source in 2016. In 2015 survey data, few students associated great risk with using e-cigarettes, and more than twice as many students were using e-cigarettes as were smoking regular cigarettes. Community members and educators may not realize the extent of the crisis and how they can aid in addressing it.
As youth vaping grows in popularity, state boards of education can play a role in stemming it, as Kansas’s board has done. Following a presentation at their May 2019 meeting, the Kansas State Board of Education decided to dive further into the issue …