Schools work to stop teen vaping

In this Aug. 28, 2019, file photo, a man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
Teen Vaping Crisis - Cooper Stevens
Nurse practitioner explains why teens vape
Teaching teens about vaping dangers

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — With teen vaping reaching a crisis in our country, schools are scrambling to educate students on the dangers in hopes to prevent them from ever trying it.

We've shared the story of an Indiana teenager who almost died from it at 16 years old.

Doctors say the history of vaping is ironic: with so many people looking to quit smoking cigarettes, vaping was created as a way to gradually stop all smoking and nicotine products. Now, it's addicting a whole new generation.

Governor Eric Holcomb recently pledged more resources to combat the problem.

In Hancock County, Mount Vernon High School is also putting that challenge front and center.

A teen health event was held at Mount Vernon High School last week. (Photo: WTHR staff)

At a teen health event last week, vaping dangers was a prime focus.

Teachers also get special training.

"We're explaining to them what vaping products and devices to look for and the patterns of behavior that might be indicative of vaping," said Assistant Principal Brooke Tharp.

The school also has a chapter of the state's VOICE program, which works in small groups to educate teens about smoking, along with school-wide programs.

Students at Mount Vernon schools have joined the VOICE initiative, which seeks to engage, educate and empower teens to celebrate a tobacco-free lifestyle. (Photo: WTHR staff)

"Compared to a year ago at this point in the school year, we've actually seen a reduction in vaping incidents, and we attribute that partly to the efforts of our students and staff," Tharp said.

Another reason the district has worked to be proactive rather than reactive is that there is not a one-size-fits-all method to quit vaping.

"Their brain is not fully developed, so when you are putting nicotine into a un-developed brain and you are targeting those pathways stimulating the pleasure part of the brain and it is not fully developed, then that is where you are seeding the addiction. I think kids feel like it comes in a package so it's safe, and the FDA has warranted it to be an okay product," said Jamie Bohnke, a nurse practitioner that works for IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians.

That same undeveloped brain may react differently to adult over-the-counter products to quit smoking.

There is a new program using free text messages to help teens quit.

For more resources, click here.