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Tempe district launches program to stop high school students from vaping

(KTAR Photo/Ali Vetnar)

TEMPE – A suburban Phoenix school district has launched a campaign to stop high school students from vaping.

“As a school district for seven high schools we really are ground zero for what high school students are doing these days,” Jennifer Liewer of the Tempe Union High School District said Thursday.

“It’s difficult because these companies that are marketing the vapes have millions of dollars, and we have to combat what they are trying to tell our students.”

The district rolled out its “Vanish the Vape” campaign with the hope of educating students and families on the consequences and dangers e-cigarettes — not only to their health but also when it comes to disciplinary actions at school.

“We want to know more about it,” Marcos de Niza High School Principal Sean McDonald said.

“What are the impacts? What are the effects? What is it that we can do to support healthy living inside our schools?”

As part of the campaign, teachers and students will educate each other with presentations, posters on campus, social media posts and videos.

“A lot of parents don’t even know their children are smoking; they thought the vapes were USB drives or some other kind of technology,” McDonald added.

Senior Matt Bergvin, the Marcos de Niza student body president, said he believes his classmates vape because they think it is cool.

“Kids are like, ‘What can I get away with? Can I do it in class? Can I do in front of my teacher? Can I do it at a game?’” he said.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, over the past several years, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product by youth. More than 2 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2017.

On Wednesday, U.S. health officials called the problem an “epidemic” and ordered manufacturers to reverse the trend or risk having their flavored vaping products pulled from the market.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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