A British Columbia high school has launched a vape buy back program to reduce and stop students from vaping.
The program in Revelstoke encourages students to exchange their vape devices for credit at the cafeteria. As of Oct. 30, 45 vapes have been “bought.”
At a school assembly at the start of the year, Greg Kenyon, the principal for Revelstoke Secondary School (RSS), told students about the dangers of vaping.
“If you choose to vape, you are hurting your health, and, in the case of indoors especially, you are hurting others too – be good to each other,” said Kenyon.
Mike Hooker, superintendent of School District 19 in Revelstoke, said this program may be the first of its kind.
Last month, Kenyon sent an email to parents about the dangers of vaping.
“We believe that the entire school community needs to address this issue. As such, parents need to continue to have great proactive discussions with their children about the harmful effects of vaping,” said the letter.
It also explained two other approaches the school is taking to help curb vaping. One includes seizing vapes and not returning when used in the school or on school property.
The other encourages students to pursue cessation assistance, whether that means speaking with a health professional, visiting a local pharmacy for nicotine replacement, or just chewing the free gum RSS offers.
According to youth drug survey data from 2017, more than half of high school students in Revelstoke reported that they have tried vaping and 12 per cent vaped daily.
A study from the University of Waterloo last year said Canadian teenage vaping rates have substantially increased by roughly 80 per cent in one year alone across Canada.
However, Hooker noted in a school board meeting this week that vaping numbers in Revelstoke appear to be dropping. He said anecdotal evidence suggests fewer students are vaping during breaks and lunch off school grounds. In addition, incidents of vaping in school have decline significantly.
He attributes the drop partially to recent lawsuits being brought against vaping companies and increasing reports on vaping causing illnesses.
For example, two B.C. men have filed a civil claim with the Supreme Court of British Columbia against vape brand Juul, after allegedly suffering “adverse health conditions” including pulmonary disease, from using the company’s popular e-cigarettes.
The two men accuse Juul Labs Canada in Vancouver and Juul Labs Inc. in San Francisco of “misleading and/or deceptive statements” including marketing to minors and implying that vaping is safer than smoking.
Hooker said Revelstoke students are also “feeling used and tricked” by vaping companies.
“The students are getting that it was marketed towards them,” he said.
According to Health Canada, as of Oct. 29, there are five confirmed or probable cases of severe lung illnesses related to vaping. Two of which are in Quebec, two in New Brunswick and one in B.C.
Latest numbers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. links 38 deaths to vaping. However, the center also reported that the number of people sickened by vaping-related illnesses has jumped to 1,888 in the U.S.
Health Canada is advising Canadians who use vaping products to monitor themselves for symptoms of pulmonary illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain) and seek medical attention promptly if they have concerns about their health.
At the Revelstoke school board meeting earlier this week, the board passed a motion urging the provincial and federal health authorities to quickly enact “necessary legislation and/or regulation to assist schools in efforts to protect students from series health risks associated with vaping.”