(Photo by Rubén Bagüés on Unsplash)

Vaping harder to detect in Kootenay high school

Devices becoming more discrete, easier for students to disguise

As vapers become smaller and more discrete – in some cases “fashionable” – it’s becoming increasingly difficult for school leaders to confiscate this particular inhalant paraphernalia from students.

“Now they’ve got a quick little jewel,” Principal Aaron McKenzie, from JL Crowe, explained. “It looks like a necklace, you would not think it was anything but a pendant. But it is a vape. You just put it up to your mouth for a quick hit.”

Many years ago, it was the BC Ministry of Health that implemented tobacco-free zones, including the regulation that smoking would no longer be permitted on high school campuses. This rule now covers cigarette smoking, vaping, and any other smoking-related substance as well.

“Vaping material is taken away if you are caught vaping on school property or inside the school,” McKenzie clarified. “It’s not a situation where everyone is being searched coming through the door. It’d be like seeing a cigarette behind the ear – ‘I will take that from you now.’”

The Trail Times contacted McKenzie in light of the Central Okanagan School District recently announcing that their principals would be confiscating vaping products they see on campus as part of a crack down to stop students from inhaling potentially dangerous substances on school property.

This has been the practice at the Trail high school for years, though vaping is much more prevalent than cigarette smoking ever was – and the vaping products are constantly evolving into smaller devices that pack big doses of nicotine.

“We’ve been struggling with the vaping thing for a long time, just like in the past with any smoking-related paraphernalia, it is considered unsafe, so it is confiscated,” McKenzie said. “Cigarettes are just so rare now. I am not sure, but maybe five per cent of the kids who are actually in the designated off-school site space would have a cigarette in their hand, it’s all vaping.”

District surveys have revealed that 80 to 90 per cent of students in grade 8 and 9 have admitted to being regular vapers or have tried it numerous times, said McKenzie.

“It is not a certain ‘subgroup,’ it is dancers, athletes, team sports guys, it is totally throughout (the student body),” he added.

“There is no way, in the day of cigarettes, that would be the statistic.”

Vaping involves inhaling from an electronic cigarette or e-cigarette, which is a handheld battery-powered vaporizer that simulates smoking. The device provides some of the behavioral aspects of smoking like the hand-to-mouth action of smoking, but without burning tobacco.

Using an e-cigarette is known as “vaping” and the user is referred to as a “vaper.” Instead of cigarette smoke, the user inhales an aerosol, commonly called vapor. E-cigarettes typically have a heating element that atomizes a liquid solution called e-liquid, or vape “juice,” which usually contains propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, flavorings, additives, and differing amounts of contaminants.

Because the level of nicotine or “juice” can be modified into very high doses, vaping can be particularly dangerous in the hands of teenagers.

“That natural addictive quality is really high, especially if you are jumping into this as a teen during a growth spurt,” said McKenzie. “So we have some kids really struggling to quit … because they are up to such high nicotine … they could be getting half a pack of cigarettes-worth of nicotine in just one or two inhales.”

Education about the perils of smoking and vaping is ongoing at the high school. McKenzie says respective lessons are taught in science, PE, and career/life education classes. Instructors talk about it at grade-wide meetings, and the topic is touched on in homebound newsletters.

The negative traction vaping is now getting in the media is a good thing as well.

“The real drag is that, in the past, there’s been a lot of parents who have not supported us with (the message) that this is a real concern,” said McKenzie. “Now I think with the sickness and death being reported, we can now go, “Look, you do not want to be in this vapor cloud.’”

In Canada, similar to tobacco products, it is illegal to buy and sell e-cigarettes and vaping supplies to anyone under the age of 19.

The Times contacted the school district for additional comment but did not hear back by press time.

Just Posted

Snowfall warning for Kootenay and Paulson passes

Up to 30 cm expected in mountain passes Saturday and Sunday.

Readers’ theatre comes to Castle Wood Village

Volunteers and residents gather for a bit of fun at one of Castlegar’s senior residences.

Community Futures launches cannabis consultation program

The Cannabis Business Transition Initiative helps businesses move into the legal economy

Moose tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in northwest Montana

This is the first time the disease has been detected in the species in Montana

PLACE NAMES: More on the great Creston Kootenay debate

Members of the Lost Kootenays Facebook site weigh in on whether Creston is in West or East Kootenay

Abortions rights advocates urge Liberals to turn politics into policy

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was pressed to clarify his stance abortion over several weeks

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s B.C. stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling across province from Dec. 11 to 17

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Most Read