BRYANT, Ark. — With a growing concern over the health of teens, Bryant is turning to new means to prevent vaping on school grounds.
Federal figures show that one in four teenagers in U.S. high schools reportedly vaped in the past month.
Despite state laws making it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy or use liquid vaping products, the number of teens caught vaping at Bryant High School continues to rise.
"The incidents that we have are increasing every year,” Dr. Todd Edwards said, Bryant High School principal.
"Our school resource officer confiscated 60 vape pens from one student at one time because he was selling them,” Bryant Mayor Allen Scott said.
The city and the district have joined forces to combat the nationwide issue now in their hometown, calling for stricter punishment.
"The only consequences through Bryant police right now is, they confiscate it and destroy it. They do not get it back," Dr. Edwards said.
Mayor Scott said a proposed ordinance is now in the hands of the city council, which will hold students accountable for their illegal use of vapes on campus.
If found guilty, students will face a strict civil penalty, which is a fine of $150. However, it will not go on a criminal record.
The district tied in a vaping education class in the ordinance.
Students and parents can take the class together and get a reduced fine in return.
"We are going to work on education, make sure students understand the dangers of vaping,” Dr. Edwards said. “We want to know we did everything we could.”
In its latest report on January 29, the Arkansas Department of Health confirmed nine vaping-related lung illness cases and 14 other probable cases.
"You really don't know what those chemicals are that you are putting into your body when you do this,” Scott said.
The Bryant City Council will go through its first reading of the proposal Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.
If it eventually passes, the ordinance will go into effect next school year.