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Health advocates propose alternative to school suspensions for vaping

(Credit: Frank Augstein, Associated Press, file)

SALT LAKE CITY – The American Lung Association is hoping to change how schools discipline students who are caught vaping.  They say some current practices aren’t working.

When a student gets in serious trouble, suspension is a common punishment.  However, officials with the American Lung Association in Utah say if you suspend a kid for vaping, that just gives them more time to vape.  Association Director of Advocacy Joanna Strother says suspending kids doesn’t cause them to change their behavior.

She says, “Just suspending them isn’t helping them.  We want them to understand and we want them to be educated about these products that are being marketed toward them as ‘safe’ or ‘another alternative.’”

The association has launched their new Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health program, or INDEPTH.  Strother says it helps kids understand the dangers of vaping in a supportive way.

“It really guides them through exploring their personal tobacco use,” she says.

It’s a series of four classes that last almost an hour, each.  Strother says it shows teens how tobacco companies target them and how their products can cause irreversible lung damage.

“It also explores healthy alternatives to tobacco.  A lot of people think this is an alternative [or a] stress reliever,” Strother says.

The classes are free for schools to use.  If a student wants to quit vaping altogether when the classes are finished, they have a cessation program teens can sign up for.

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