School To Begin Random Nicotine Testing To Combat Teen Vaping

By Victoria Kim 06/24/19

The school is also considering installing “Wi-Fi-enabled sensors” in bathrooms and locker rooms to detect vapor or “sounds associated with smoking.”

high school teens vaping

A new school district policy in a rural Nebraska community illustrates the wider concern over teenage vaping.

Starting this fall, as the new school year begins, some public school students at Fairbury Junior-Senior High School (FJSHS) will be subject to random nicotine testing, as the school district tries to dampen the popularity of e-cigarettes.

Superintendent of Fairbury Public Schools Stephen Grizzle—who called vaping a “widespread epidemic”—discussed the new policy with the New York Times. He said they have observed rising incidents of vaping on school grounds—classrooms, restrooms, locker rooms and more.

In one year, Fairbury Junior-Senior High School saw a steep rise in disciplinary incidents involving nicotine—mostly vaping. The number rose from seven incidents in the 2017-2018 school year, to 30 incidents in the 2018-2019 school year.

“We are really wanting this to be a preventive, proactive measure,” Grizzle said. “We are not wanting to punish kids. We are wanting to give them a reason to say no.”

The policy only applies to students participating in extracurricular activities like sports and marching band—who already have agreed to random drug testing for illicit or performance-enhancing drugs.

About 60% of kids at FJSHS—which serves almost 400 students in grades 7-12—participate in extracurriculars. Under the new policy, 20-25 of these kids will be randomly selected once a month for a drug screening conducted by the school nurse.

If they test positive, they will suspended from participating in extracurricular activities for 10 days. If they fail a second nicotine screening, they will be suspended for 45 days and must pay for themselves to attend substance abuse counseling. For a third offense, they will be forced to sit out of extracurriculars for 12 months.

Apparently this policy isn’t the school district’s only “bright” idea. According to the Times, they are also considering installing “Wi-Fi-enabled sensors” in bathrooms and locker rooms to detect vapor or “sounds associated with smoking.”

E-cigarettes were originally marketed as a tool to quit smoking, offering an alternative deemed safer than combustible cigarettes. However, it’s become increasingly popular among young people.

As a result the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been cracking down on e-cigarette companies in the name of reducing and preventing youth vaping.

“In enabling a path for e-cigarettes to offer a potentially lower-risk alternative for adult smokers, we won’t allow the current trends in youth access and use to continue, even if it means putting limits in place that reduce adult uptake of these products,” said former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a 2018 statement.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr