By Alyssa Schnugg
Despite the US Food and Drug Administration raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products like cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and vaping products from 18 to 21, Oxford School District Superintendent Brian Harvey said vaping continues to be a concern in the high school.
On Friday, two male students had bad reactions to materials in a vape product, Harvey reported during the OSD Board of Trustee meeting Monday evening. He did not go into more detail about what product was used but said the reactions were serious. He said the two students were recovering and “doing well.”
“It could have been something different and in many other parts of the country, it has been,” he said.
Harvey said the district needs the help of all parents.
“We can’t do this alone,” he said. “We want to encourage parents to talk to their children. If they don’t know what is in something, don’t put it in their bodies.”
Harvey said he spoke with Lafayette County School District Supervisor Adam Pugh recently who reported a similar incident occurred recently at the county high school.
“We are taking this seriously,” Harvey said. “We are ramping up education efforts and efforts on punishment.”
Harvey said the district is considering installing smoke and vape detectors in restrooms.
“When they go off, we can identify who it is and where it is,” he said. “Hopefully, that will help curb these events and we can get in front of the problem, rather than chasing behind it.”
According to a recent JAMA Network survey, 27.5 percent of high school students reported using nicotine e-cigarettes in the past 30 days in 2019 — up from just over 20 percent in 2018. Among middle-schoolers, that rate rose from 5 percent in 2018 to 10.5 percent in 2019.
“This isn’t a boy-girl thing. It’s not a white, black, brown thing,” Harvey said. “It’s all races and genders taking part and we have to have a coordinated approach. We need parents’ help.”
Trustee Betsy Smith suggested the district reach out to the William Magee Center for Wellness Education on the University of Mississippi campus for advice and possible resources available to help with educating students on the dangers of vaping.