A tip from a parent led our media partners at KATC to look into an apparent vaping problem at an area school.

After hearing the tip KATC reached out to the Lafayette Parish School System who confirmed that vaping was indeed "becoming a problem" at not only high schools, but middle schools as well.

I'm not too surprised at high school kids vaping. When I was in high school, there were a variety of kids who smoked—whether it started out as something they were doing socially in an effort to feel older or just something to look cool, it definitely wasn't an uncommon sight.

But when I think about vaping—which is marketed as an alternative to smoking tobacco—the last thing I think of is a 6th or 7th grader who is trying to kick the habit. It's actually kind of sad to think about it because you know that any middle schooler who is vaping is 100% only doing it to look cool.

Luckily, administrators are aware of the issue and according to Assistant Superintendent Joe Craig, vaping is handled just like cigarettes.

In terms of discipline, the district codes vaping the same as the use of tobacco, so a student would be assigned to In-school suspension for a first offense. If a student was caught selling vaping materials, that could result in a suspension or recommended expulsion depending on the details, and what was being sold.

Craig says that area principals don't believe the consequences are harsh enough given the dangers that come with vaping and "could impact the health and safety of the kids."

the committee will recommend that the consequence for vaping be upgraded from in-school suspension to an out of school suspension when the handbook is brought up for Board approval (April or May)

When we brought up the topic on our show, we actually had a few people anonymously call in to tell us that they knew of parents who bought JUUL pods for their kids so that they wouldn't smoke weed.

What also surprised me was that Craig revealed to KATC that JUUL and other e-cigarettes were becoming "more of an issue in schools than traditional tobacco." Please don't confuse my "surprise" as some old man yelling for kids to get off of his lawn, but just consider the fact that JUUL and other e-cigarette companies are marketing their products as a safe alternative to regular cigarettes.

Now ask yourself how many kids you know with a nasty addiction to cigarettes?

What's scary is that being that e-cigarettes are so new, the long-term effects are widely unknown at this point. So while it's being marketed as a safe alternative, we won't know what type of harm these chemicals can cause until its possibly too late.

Dr. Tina Stefanski is the regional medical director for the Louisiana Department of Health and she tells KATC that parents should warn their children that e-cigarettes aren't harmless.

The liquids can contain really harmful chemicals, heavy metals, carcinogens which are chemicals that can cause cancer. This liquid is actually inhaled in fine particles into your lungs, so we don’t know what long-term consequences this will have on someone’s lungs.

You can check out JUUL's response as well as more detailed information about vaping here on the KATC website, but if we want to make a difference we'll have to do it in person.

What I mean by that is keep in mind that anything that your young family members see you doing could have an effect on what they want to do. If you have a young family member—or hell, any kid on the street that is doing something harmful—speak up. You don't have to yell at them, but let them know that they're still cool without blowing those ridiculous clouds all over the place.

The plus side is many of these kids can still be reached while they're young, and you never know what difference you can make, so be that positive role model or influence. It will go farther than you think.

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