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Schools seek to address dangers of vaping
05232018 VAPE

Growing use of e-cigarettes among high school students has local school officials and law enforcement warning staff and parents of potential dangers.

“There’s been this idea that they’re harmless,” Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said in a recent presentation recorded for staff and parents. “We wanted to make sure our community is aware of the dangers … particularly among young people.”

E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used form of tobacco by youth in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that the belief that e-cigarettes are less harmful than other tobacco products has contributed to this rise.

It’s an industry that could be worth $48 billion globally by 2023, according to a P&S Market Research report.

In Forsyth County, sheriff’s officials recently warned parents and students about a product called Kronic Juice, a synthetic cannabis oil and additive that if used incorrectly may cause seizures and unconsciousness, according to reporting from the Forsyth County News.

Andy Betancourt, a safety and security assistant for Hall County Schools, reported a recent incident with one student who had an “adverse reaction” to Galaxy Oil, a similar product.

Hall County Schools spokesman Gordon Higgins said, “In checking with our principals, they have encountered students using vapors on campus, but have had no experiences with Kronic Juice.”

Schofield said it’s a misperception that e-cigarettes are safer than other tobacco products.

There’s “an awful lot that we don’t know,” he added.

Gainesville Police Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said educating students about e-cigarettes, vaping and synthetic cannabis additives “is something that we’ve had to add to our curriculum in the schools.”

For example, all fifth-grade classes in Gainesville and Hall County schools participate in the police department’s Avoiding Drugs, Violence and Negative Choices Early program, also known as ADVANCE.

The synthetic additives are of particular concern because it is never clear what ingredients are in them.

“A lot of it is education,” he said about battling the popularity of vaping among youth. “There’s always a level of danger there.”

Schofield said use of e-cigarettes is against school disciplinary policies and encouraged students and parents to discuss the issue.  

“We are seeing an awful lot of it going on amongst our students in the middle and high school ages,” he said.

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