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Edison schools exploring the purchase of devices to detect vaping

e-cigarette, vaping

EDISON – In an effort to take a stand on the dangers of vaping, the Edison school district is exploring the purchase of devices to detect vaping and working on providing increased education for staff, parents and students.

The nine members of the Board of Education (BOE) read a statement at a meeting on Sept. 23 to show their unified stance with the district’s efforts.

“The use of vaping has been steadily growing popularity among middle and high school youths,” Board Member Richard Brescher said. “E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, also known as electronic vaping devices, are battery powered devices that were originally marketed as an option for adult smoking cessation.”

“According to the 2016 New Jersey Youths Tobacco survey, vaping has the prevalence of conventional cigarettes usage,” school board member Yuna Chen said. “Though the Food and Drug Administration recently issued new restrictions regarding the safety of vaping products, vaping continues to present a growing concern among youths.”

School board member Elizabeth Conway said there is a common misconception that vaping is safe.

“E-cigarettes are not safe for youth. Most contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and harmful to adolescent brain development,” she said. “It is important to know that even if the vape juice does not contain nicotine, the chemicals and metals contained in the flavoring can still pose a potential for harm.”

Similar to traditional tobacco, another member of the board, Beth Moroney, said cessation efforts and prevention efforts through education is key for both parents and students.

“Edison parents should know that the district is exploring a variety of resources to understand how to get the vaping under control among our students and juveniles in general,” she said.

Board member Falguni Patel said there are plans to explore methods to detect the use of vaping devices in schools, and plans to train staff to recognize the use of vaping devices and guide students in making smart choices to address the growing use of vaping devises including the implementation of a smoking cessation program.

Shannon Peng, a school board member, explained that the district is looking for ways to increase student knowledge through health instruction and inclusion of the topic when the Edison Police Department conducts its anti-drug assemblies.

Board member Theresa Ward said they are also looking to partner with the township Municipal Alliance, similar to last year’s program of Hidden in Plain Sight program, which educated people through a mock teenager’s bedroom on identifying drug paraphernalia and hiding places along with other signs indicating alcohol or drug use.

“We are looking to see if we can find a good program for parents as there’s a need for home enforcement and attention,” she said.

Ralph Errico, a school board member, touched on the fact that there is no clear percentage of students the district can identify who are vaping.

“We understand the district concern from parents of the use of these devices developing a wide range plan to address to help vaping and the use of vaping devices to detect them,” he said. “Vaping is not unique to Edison or any other school district and the state is working with districts to address the growing concerns.”

Errico explained that the availability of the STOPit app, which allows anonymous reporting not only with vaping, but with any other situations ,whether someone is dealing drugs, bullying or someone has a weapon. He said the app is mentioned during student assemblies and he suggested it be provided in the student-parent handbook for the two district high schools.

Board President Jerry Shi said vaping is a nationwide problem, stating that Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Sept. 12 to create a task force to recommend solutions on vaping in New Jersey.

He said in the coming weeks the board’s curriculum committee will provide details on the district’s anti-vaping plans.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.

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