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Our opinion: Smoking mad over school vaping

Smoking in the boys’ room is taking on a whole new meaning these days.

We’re referring, of course, to the recent discussion between parents and Warren County School District officials about the increase in vaping and drug use in the school. Parents are upset that students are using vape cartridges containing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Amy Stewart, district superintendent, told parents and board members that district administrators are aware of the problem. Vape detectors have been ordered and are expected to be installed this summer.

Stewart called for increased state penalties for those found guilty of selling illegal vape additives to youth.

In 2020, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced a lawsuit against JUUL calling on the company to end sales in the state over the company’s targeting of youth and use of child-friendly advertising.

A similar lawsuit against JUUL filed in Arizona was settled for $12.5 million — but statistics released in April 2022 from the Arizona Department of Health Services show 20% of the state’s high school seniors and 8.3% of the state’s eighth-graders vape electronic cigarettes.

We’re sure some will wonder why parents are so upset.

Look no further than Mifflin County for a reason to be concerned. In March, a student’s medical emergency in the Mifflin County School District was linked to a vaping device used in school that later tested positive for opioids. Following that incident, two other confiscated vapes tested positive for fentanyl or heroin.

As we said, we’re not talking about cigarettes in a bathroom stall anymore.

Lawsuits alone are not the answer, nor are vape detectors or criminal charges against local sellers — though all; can be helpful. Education may help, but that education and prevention can’t just happen in schools.

Kudos, then, to Warren County parents who spoke last week to the school board. They’re obviously concerned — which means they may be engaged partners as the district examines its next steps.

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