You may have read various media reports during the last week about teenage vaping.
Kavanagh College and its students are not immune to this, and our statistics are likely to be in a similar range to those quoted - ‘one in five year 10 students are vaping regularly’. Annually, we take part in a public health national smoking (and now vaping) survey for year 10s. Sadly, last year’s data showed that, whereas smoking rates for our year 10 Kavanagh students had reached zero during the last few years, vaping was rising dramatically. The mindset that vaping is a good alternative for regular smokers doesn’t fit here – our teenagers weren’t smoking to begin with.
We have a college smokefree and vapefree policy which you can find on our website. We regularly remind students in assemblies and through other forums that vaping and associated devices are banned at school, and our student council took on some work late last year educating students about the harmful effects of vaping. Communication has gone out letting parents and students know that we now have a cctv camera operational, and this can be placed in areas around the school where we suspect students may congregate to share vapes. Students who are caught vaping have vapes confiscated, parents are contacted and, if a first offence, they attend an education session with our public health nurse. Addiction to vaping whether through the substance or the habit is real.
Vapes are addictive regardless of the marketing which promotes them as a safe pastime. Many have high levels of nicotine and teenagers are looking for increasing levels to get a new ‘hit’.
If you saw the editorial in the ODT on Tuesday, June 21, you may have read about a recent Australian medical review stating there is conclusive, clinical evidence that vaping causes acute (short term) lung injury, poisoning, burns, and seizures. The seizures aspect is particularly worrying because teenagers do gather together to vape in areas that are hidden from view. It is particularly distressing for anyone supporting someone having a seizure, let alone a young teenager with their friend afraid of asking for help because they are scared of the consequences of being found vaping in the first place.
We cannot reverse this trend on our own – we need to work together. Parents are the first teachers.
Please talk to your children about the dangers of vaping, and our public health nurse is available to support you and your child if you need this. If you allow vaping at home and out of school hours for your child, please be aware that we are not tolerant of this and ensure that your child knows the difference between the boundaries.