Vaper block: Crestview to ticket users

NEW WATERFORD — Starting today, Crestview students caught vaping at school will face a criminal ticket into juvenile court, as well as a mandated education program regarding the dangers of tobacco and vaping products before they will be allowed to return to class.

The Crestview Board of Education unanimously passed the change in policy on Wednesday night following other measures recently taken to curb an increase in the use of vaping products. Juvenile court could impose a fine of up to $125.

After the meeting, Superintendent Matthew Manley said Crestview has had 16 high school students caught vaping and two cases involving middle schoolers. He sees the new policy as a chance to both punish and educate students.

Crestview is not alone. Manley said the idea for the change in policy came after speaking to other superintendents at a county superintendents meeting and he believes other schools also are in the process of adopting similar policies.

Earlier in the meeting, student liaison Jeremy Miller told board members his classmates asked him to talk to the board about a recent decision to close all but one girls restroom and one boys restroom in the high school. The change meant students needing to use a restroom were inconvenienced, required to walk farther and possibly wait for a turn. Miller said students who do not vape did not feel it was fair.

The change also reduced the number of restrooms administrators, school resource officers and teachers had to watch in order to catch the growing number of students participating in vaping.

Board member James Weikart pointed out that in the business world if something inconveniences the other employees, then those employees talk to the one responsible. He suggested possibly the students should be talking to the other students who are vaping. Board president Dr. Miller said students could also help in catching the culprits.

Manley said after the meeting students have actually gotten ill because they are trying to vape as much as possible in a minute or two while in the restroom. Additionally, Manley points out vaping comes in flavors meaning it “tastes like an orange instead of an ashtray,” which makes it more appealing to students. But those flavors also contain nicotine.

“The students don’t see it as smoking, unfortunately,” said athletic director Paul Cusick. “They look at it as what’s the big deal.”

Unfortunately, while the health affects of long-term smoking are generally known and accepted, the affects of long-term vaping are not yet known. One board member also pointed out unscrupulous people have been known to put other substances into the device.

Besides health issues, board member David McGoogan said it is important for students to learn when they have a job someday, if the boss says no vaping and they vape, they could lose their jobs.

If anything,, the measures the school have already taken and the ones taken Wednesday night have increased the amount of conversation between students and staff about vaping.