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Bartlesville Public Schools

Posted: May 14, 2019 12:22 PMUpdated: May 14, 2019 12:22 PM

BHS Staff Inform Public About Vaping Policy, More

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Garrett Giles

Parents, district staff, and community members attend public presentations on students and vaping at Bartlesville High School.

Safe and Healthy Schools Coordinator Kerry Ickleberry and BHS Assistant Principal Michael Harp said they gave the presentations to raise awareness. 

Harp said that while this is a national issue, they are seeing this become a problem in Bartlesville. He said has been an issue at BHS and at Central and Madison Middle Schools. They are even seeing some issues with kids coming to the middle schools from the elementary level that are vaping.

Both Harp and Ickleberry said that legislation has caught up with school policy in Oklahoma. Governor Kevin Stitt signed Owasso Senator J.J. Dossett’s anti-vaping bill on Monday, April 16th.

Ickleberry added that the Bartlesville Public Schools has always been a tobacco and nicotine free campus.

She said the policy was set a few years ago when adults attempted to vape at a sporting event at BHS.

After conducting an interim study last fall, Owasso’s Senator J.J. Dossett filed legislation for the 2019 session that would extend tobacco product bans through the Tobacco-Free Schools Act to vaping.

Dossett says under Senate Bill 33, the Tobacco-Free Schools Act, which bans tobacco products in all forms, would extended the ban to vapor products, including the noncombustible devices as well as the cartridges whether or not they contain nicotine.

In addition to the harm nicotine can cause to children and teens, Dossett says there are other chemicals in the aerosol from e-cigarettes that are also alarming.  Diacetyl, which is used in flavoring vaping products, has been linked to an irreversible and serious lung condition called obliterative bronchiolitis. The aerosol also contains other chemicals and heavy metals.  Further studies are being conducted to determine the impact of these materials on the user and for those exposed to secondhand vapors.

He says when they had their interim study on vaping, he heard from educators, administrators and parents who were very concerned about how pervasive it’s become on school property. Kids, Dossett says, think it’s safe for them to use, when the study they performed says otherwise. With all these serious health concerns, Dossett says it just makes sense to extend the school tobacco ban to vaping.

Sen. Dossett says if you look at the studies coming out from the Federal Drug Administration and the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, there is clear evidence that vaping is harmful to adolescents. The studies show that it gets kids addicted to nicotine which can harm their still-developing brains.  That, Dossett says, is a fact that nicotine can affect decision making and impulse control.

Dossett believes his bill will close the vaping loophole so these products cannot be used in schools.

Assistant Principal Harp said they biggest challege they face is figuring out what the devices look light. He said they tend to look like a computer mouse or a flash drive for a computer

That can prove to be confusing as students can get by without staff knowing that what they possess is actually an e-cigarette/vaping device. Harp said for awhile at BHS, they were noticing students bring vapong devices every month. The devices, he said, looked different every time.

Ickleberry and Harp said planning for additional presentation dates is underway. They want to let parents and the general public know about the devices that are out there, how they are being advertised to children and the low costs for these products.

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