INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — As students hit the books and face hurdles from the coronavirus pandemic, school staffers in Indian River County want to shed light on another issue on campuses: vaping.
While the number of teens who are starting to use electronic cigarettes is down, however in 2019 more than 25% were using them according to a Florida Youth Tobacco Survey with the Florida Department of Health's Bureau of Epidemiology in 2019.
In the most recent study from the Annual National Youth Tobacco Survey more than 2 million youth still use e-cigarettes, that's 11.3% of high school students.
Students at Sebastian River High School are hoping to bring that number down to zero.
Cruising the halls through a modern-day high school, you may not notice what's happening behind the scenes.
That's why students with the group Students Against Destructive Decisions — or SADD — at Sebastian River High School are advocating for their peers to make better choices by handing out posters and raising awareness on the dangers.
"I hope we can make a difference for even at least one student. If one student who previously didn't know this information and decided they're not going to make those decisions anymore, I would guarantee that a success," said Cameron Hauber, the vice president of SADD. "Inprevious years SADD stood for Students Against Drunk Driving but this year we kind of changed it and emphasized more to Students Against Destructive Decisions so we are able to raise awareness to more things than alcohol."
According to the CDC, just one pod can contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.
According to Barenborg, a couple of years ago the Indian River County Board of Commissioners had an ordinance in place so students had to be over 21 years old in order to purchase vaping products in the county.
Therefore, all of the stores in our county had to market vaping products like they would cigarettes adding to restrictions. However, last year those provisions were revoked when senate bill 620 was passed stating that businesses could sue municipalities and counties if they go above and beyond state law.
Currently there are over 300 different vaping supply stores in Indian River County alone.
At the School District of Indian River County, the number one disciplinary problem is vaping. That's why the district has launched their "End Teen Vaping" campaign.
"We need to get the word out that vaping is dangerous," Barenborg said. "And it's putting nicotine into your child. And parents we need to wake up, we need to know what's happening."
They say fruit flavors and colorful packaging are attractive to young children, but it could cause neurological damage.
"If you want to perform well in sports, if you want to do well in your scholastics, if you want to do well in your mood and personalities, then avoid it. It's a substance that will cause a disruption to your life," said K. Adam Lee, the medical director of the Thoracic Surgery & Lung Center at Jupiter Medical Center.
For more information, click here.