Teen vaping on the rise in Madison

Madison police officers, parents and school leaders got together Tuesday night to talk about the e-cigarette epidemic among young people.

Posted: Apr 30, 2019 10:41 PM
Updated: Apr 30, 2019 10:50 PM

On Tuesday, Madison City Schools and The Partnership for a Drug-Free Community invited parents to Madison City Hall to learn and ask questions about the nationwide vaping trend among young people.

One parent, Jannifer Pride, never thought she'd find herself talking to her 10-year-old about vaping, but that's how widespread the trend is.

"We stay away from the things that are no-nos, like drugs, and I consider vaping a type of drug," Pride said.

According to last year's national teen drug survey, 17.6 percent of 8th graders, 32.3 percent of 10th graders and 37.3 percent of 12th graders said they vaped or used e-cigarettes.

Officer Shane Kyker is the school resource officer at James Clemens High School. He said they're finding themselves being more reactive than proactive against the issue, because students are doing a good job sneaking e-cigarettes into school.

"We talk about the health concerns and that we don't follow the leader, we are the leader," Kyker said. "That's the biggest struggle for us, how easily these items are able to be concealed."

He said they're catching an average of three students per week with an e-cigarette, and they're getting caught because of anonymous tips.

Madison City Schools officials said a student caught with a e-cigarette is given a disciplinary hearing, and because the device is considered drug paraphernalia, students are getting an average punishment of 25 days in alternative school the first time they're caught.

Right now, more than half of the district's alternative school population is there for vaping. Pride doesn't plan on her daughter ever being in that situation.

"I'm just hoping she doesn't get into it. We talk about that kind of stuff, and I hope she pays attention," said Pride.

Officer Kyker, along with school and public health officials, encourages all parents to follow Pride's example and talk about this with your child.

The 2019 national teen drug survey hasn't been released yet, but state public health officials said, for the first time, surveyors are going to ask student if they "juul."

A representative from The Partnership for a Drug-Free Community said the e-cigarette brand called Juul is the most popular among students. It's so popular that it's become its own verb. The act of using the device is often referred to as "juuling."

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