RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — Previously, Russellville School District students caught vaping faced penalties under the district's no tobacco policy. This school year, the consequences will be even stricter.
“We had two medical emergencies last year, and so we began to ask questions. ‘What is vaping? How pervasive is it in our school community?’” Russellville School District Superintendent Mark Gotcher said.
The students know the answer.
“I see kids all the time vaping. They just pull them out secretive,” high school junior Sayvion Brock said.
The U.S. Surgeon General said E-Cigarette use among teens is an epidemic, warning nicotine exposure can harm the developing brain and increase risk for addiction.
“The data is very young, and so while we’re all learning of the effects of vaping, we want to just make sure we’re making the proper response in making sure our students are safe in our school district,” Gotcher said.
Nicotine may not be the only thing inside of them, so the district is taking serious action.
“We have no way of testing if that E-Cigarette contains an illegal substance, so we are asking the parent, if you want to see the consequence reduced, you’ll have to get a drug test,” Gotcher said.
Students caught vaping may face up to five days of out-of-school suspension and up to five days at the Student Detention Center. They’ll also have to take a course on the harmful effects of vaping before they can return to school.
“It worries me. It’s a big deal because I have younger siblings,” Brock said.
Brock said educators aren’t the only ones concerned.
“I have Athlete’s Heart so that was kind of hard. It kind of hurts to see these kids, you know, give up everything just for vaping. You know, mess themselves up,” Brock said.
"You don't know how it's going to affect you," high school sophomore Brexton Beach said.
Beach is concerned this won't completely solve the issue.
"They're still going to use them outside of school," Beach said.