BHS Tackles Vaping

Anti-Vape Kits Now Available In The Health Office

According to the American Lung Association, one in four teens have vaped. Additionally, 95% of those addicted to tobacco start smoking before the age of 21. From removing bathroom doors to installing additional vape detectors, BHS has taken many steps in the past to try and remedy this crisis. The newest of these attempted solutions are Anti-Vape kits. Anti-Vape kits are available to all BHS students and can be acquired by asking a school counselor, nurse, or CMMHC chemical health counselor. According to Nurse Karen Schultz, the head nurse at BHS, this kit is for people whose lives are being interrupted by the constant need for a vape. “[If] the first thing that you think of when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed is having a vape, that means that your body is probably craving it a lot.” She explained that the students struggling with that level of craving will benefit the most from these kits. 

Nurse Schultz explained that a group of chemical health and medical professionals, including BHS’s drug and alcohol counselor Lillian Carver and the drug free community coordinator Rachel Nelson, teamed up with MEATA (Mentorship Education And Drug Awareness) to propose the idea of Anti-Vape kits. They brought this idea to BHS’s chemical health committee, which consists of Schultz, Nelson, Carver, Assistant Principal Ed Cox, and a few high school teachers. Once the idea was approved, MEATA provided a grant that allowed BHS to provide these kits without straining the school’s budget. 

Quitting is typically most effective when there is a set plan in place. Assistant Principal Ed Cox explained that when developing the kits they looked into what the best practices were. “If we’re giving kids these resources, how do we try to increase the chance that it’s actually going to work? That continued dialogue with a chemical health professional [and] with the school nurse is important.” Because of this, students who reach out for one of these kits will be required to meet with a CMMHC counselor twice. The first session is to introduce the student to the kit and explain why it is important, and the second is a follow up appointment meant to help out said student by giving them additional resources as needed. If a student needs more help to quit, more appointments will be made available to them. 

One large question students may have is if their request for a Anti-Vape kit will remain anonymous. According to Cox, if a student asks their counselor for help, that information will only be shared with the school nurse and potential chemical health professional because they do the actual distribution of the kits. “From a confidentiality piece it’s all people that work in confidential situations all the time, and they know the best practices there.” Cox stated. He went on to further explain that “The only way [administration] would know is if it starts with us. . . When kids get in trouble, say for vaping or whatever, we talk to them about, you know, do you feel like you’re addicted, what supports do you need, things like that. And so, sometimes, that might be an opportunity that comes out of that conversation, so then of course we would know, but otherwise no.”

Each kit includes a water bottle, educational materials, fidgets, cessation resources— which can include anything from statistics on the benefits of quitting to helplines to contact in times of need—, and mints/gum. Mayo Clinic found that by chewing on gum or hard candy, such as mints, it is easier to resist tobacco cravings by satisfying the oral fixation. In fact, anything you can do to keep the body active, including simple things such as fidgeting, can help the mind lessen the grip nicotine has on it. “The urge to use, when someone is quitting, may last like 30 seconds and then go away,” said Schultz. Anything that can distract a student for those 30 seconds is incredibly useful in the quitting process. Mayo Clinic also found that focusing on the health benefits of quitting is one of the best ways to overcome addiction. While it may seem frivolous to give someone already interested in quitting resources on why vaping is harmful, this is actually one of the most successful methods. “There’s a lot of different aspects to quitting,” Schultz explained, “There’s making the plan, and then there’s throwing away the products and getting some support. . . we put in the kit materials such as a plan, and how to identify strategies to deal with your triggers, and helpful ideas for that.” Other side effects of quitting include headaches, sweating, hunger, and fatigue, which is why it is imperative to stay hydrated. 

Anti-Vape kits are a new practice to BHS and so it is hard to speculate what their effectiveness will be, especially since the reach of these kits is much larger than the hallways. “It’s not just kids who are using at school,” Cox explained, “I think we all know that there are kids that are using that need help that probably never use at school.” Those kids are still struggling and therefore are deserving of a helping hand. “It’s an important issue, and so we’re trying. We’re trying to make things right, and trying to make an impact on it.” Schultz had a similar perspective, saying that “we aren’t anticipating large volumes of bags going out.” She went on to say that “that isn’t our intention. . . we want it to be for those who want to quit.” For many years, the proposed solutions have focused on catching students. This new system shows a change in thinking and focus on support. 

Some may argue that the best way to help a teenager get clean is to punish them for vaping in the first place. However, many teens that are addicted to vaping would like to quit, but lack the resources to make this dream a reality. The National Library of Medicine discovered that of the 54.2% of young people who would like to quit vaping, 33.3% had attempted to quit in the past year. Without support, these attempts are less likely to succeed than with support. This has proved to many that the best way to lower e-cigarette usage is to support young people’s attempts at quitting, rather than demonize them for falling into addiction in the first place. Many students are also tricked by marketing into thinking that vaping isn’t unhealthy. “If there’s a low percentage of a chemical the industry doesn’t need to report it,” explained Schultz. This allows many vapes to be advertised as ‘nicotine free’, while still containing addicting levels of nicotine. “I just see it as these kids who are maybe wanting to experiment or see what it’s like. Maybe after they do this a few times they become addicted and then they are just having a hard time stopping,” she later added. Schultz also explained that, developmentally, teenagers are more likely to have the urge to experiment with new things which is why they have been targeted the most by these large tobacco companies. 

One of the most effective ways to quit vaping, according to Mayo Clinic, is to have people willing to help you do so. By implementing Anti-Vape kits, BHS is hoping to do just that. “Our number one goal is for kids to be healthy,” Cox explained, “There are consequences for breaking school rules, but if a student is coming to us for help, it’s not a consequence situation. . . it’s a situation where we are there to provide help.” He added that he would like to assure any student who might be afraid to come forward that there will not be any punishment for doing so. “I can tell you very strongly that nobody’s going to get a consequence if they voluntarily come forward and say, whether they’re talking to an assistant principal, or talking to a school counselor, or talking to the nurse, or talking to a teacher. . . We’re not in the business of just catching kids and trying to give consequences. . . our goal is to help kids and also to run a school.” For Schultz, addiction is not something that can be solved with an in-school suspension.“ As a nurse and as a medical provider, I have to look at the situation of any kind of addiction as a medical concern and not something that is punished,” she said. “If some student came up to me just like, ‘hey I’m thinking about quitting. I need some help and support.’ I’m not going to say something that is going to be need to have like a questionnaire first. It will just be ‘Sure let me help you out with this!’.” Anyone considering asking for help with addiction can rest easy knowing that, according to Cox, “if a kid is asking for help, we’re going to provide help, they’re not going to get a consequence for that.” 

If a student has any questions on Anti-Vape kits, or would like to know more about them, they can talk to any school counselor, school nurse, or chemical health professional in the building.

Show More

Olivia Telecky

Olivia (Livi) Telecky is a Senior at Buffalo High School and full time PSEO student at the University of Northwestern Saint Paul. In the future, she plans on studying abroad in Ireland and majoring in Political Sciences and Creative Writing.

Related Articles

Back to top button