SYDNEY, N.S. — Local high school students say they’re not surprised by recent media reports about the covert use of vaporizers in classrooms.
“I’ve seen it,” said Mitchel Clark, a student at Sydney Academy high school. “Well, I’ve actually done it before.”
A vaporizer is a handheld electronic smoking device (e-cigarette) that simulates smoking tobacco by heating a liquid which releases a vapour that users inhale.
The Preventive Medicine medical journal published a report in October 2017 which said 10 per cent of students in the United States have tried vaping at least once. Videos on YouTube show the popularity of vaping with students, and the New York Times recently reported schools are struggling to deal with vaping in class.
Clark said he is well aware of students vaping during class.
“You blow out smoke and do it in class. It’s really just being an edgy teenager, I guess.”
While he admitted to doing it in the past, he said it’s something he doesn’t do anymore.
“I don’t do it anymore because it’s clearly just done for attention or something.”
And it’s not just e-cigarette vaping that’s being done in classrooms. According to Clark he’s seen people smoke tobacco and even vaporize marijuana in class. Even while he was in junior high at Sherwood Park Education Centre, he witnessed classmates smoking marijuana through a vaporizer in class.
E-cigarette vapour is almost entirely odorless and dissipates quickly, leaving teachers unaware of what’s happening, Clark explained. He says he’s never seen anyone get caught.
“I’ve never really noticed anyone getting caught. They’re pretty discrete about it.”
Sydney Academy student Cori Bushey says she’s seen her friends do it in class as well.
“My friend was sitting right next to me and she took it out and started blowing the smoke out,” she said. “Then the teacher turned around and my friend was trying to make the smoke go away. They didn’t get caught, though.”
It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 19 to buy vaporizers and e-juice that contains nicotine, but Dylan Muise, who works at Coastal Vapor on Charlotte Street in Sydney, said it’s a regular occurrence to see kids come in and try to purchase these products.
“Oh yeah. Every day we get them coming in.”
The store doesn’t sell concealable vaporizers that students would be able to hide easily in class, but Dylan was aware of a particular model meant for more seasoned vape enthusiasts that was sold to an underage person in Alberta.
“Some people aren’t educated on it. I saw that one in a vapour store in Alberta that was sold to a 16-year-old.”
Despite underage smokers constantly looking for ways to get a hold of vaporizers, Coastal Vapor follows a strict policy that forbids people under the age of 19 from purchasing anything or even entering the store.
“Even if you have an infant sitting in a stroller, you can’t come in here,” said Muise.
Kurt Kublek is a program co-ordinator with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education, and he said while there have been issues with students having vaporizers at school, he’s not aware of students using them in class.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard of that,” he said. “Sometimes parents will call in and say their kids were suspended for smoking on school grounds, but they were actually vaping.”
He said school administrators have checks in place to prevent students from using vaporizers or drugs in schools, such as sign-out sheets and random checks. A smoke-free environment policy was also updated to include vaping.
“If it’s an issue, education with the kids has to be a part of it,” he said. “Policy was updated to reflect this new kind of smoking and is enforced.”
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