Kansas State Board of Education Leads the Way on Addressing Youth Vaping Crisis
Alexandria, VA – Between 2011 and 2017, the number of U.S. high school students using electronic cigarettes rose from 220,000 to more than 3 million. Usage of vaping products among middle school students has also increased at alarming rates. Federal and state policymakers are addressing this crisis, including in Kansas, where the state board of education acted quickly to engage stakeholders on curbing youth vaping.
Nearly a third of Kansas high school students surveyed in 2017 reported vaping at least once. Following a presentation in May 2019, the Kansas board directed Commissioner of Education Randy Watson to convene concerned stakeholders to make recommendations for board action. One such recommendation was establishing a task force to investigate the youth vaping epidemic and keep the state board informed.
The task force includes the commissioner of education, department of health officials, health practitioners, educators, researchers, and students. They present relevant research, recent activity, and make policy recommendations, which the board adopted in December 2019.
Stakeholder engagement has been critical, especially that of students. “The only way to address this issue with young people is by engaging them,” said Jordan Roberts, prevention program manager for the Kansas Department of Health. She recommends that any state board that is considering this work be as inclusive as possible—everyone should play a role. “There is no sector that we left unturned,” she said.
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