The potential health effects of vaping, especially on young people, have been generating headlines of late.
In response, Island Health is holding a free presentation for any parents, youth or staff of School District 71 called “Let’s Clear the Air.”
The discussion will feature Dr. Charmaine Enns, the North Island region’s medical health officer, at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary in its multi-purpose room on Jan. 8 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. She will be joined by others, including parents and school-based administrators.
At the latest board of education meeting on Dec. 14, superintendent Tom Demeo informed trustees about the upcoming presentation. Superintendent Tom Demeo spoke to trustees about the event, saying the aim is to look at how to reduce and eventually eliminate the habit of vaping among students in district schools.
“It’s a topic that’s getting a lot of attention – and so it should – in the province,” he said. “We’re going to do our part to see what we can do, not only as a district but as a community.”
The board of education for School District 71 has tackled the topic recently, as trustees wanted to pressure the Province to deal with what is seen as a growing health concern. The rate of vaping among youth has increased quickly in recent years, and there are concerns about its addictive qualities, long-term health effects, for example, on oral health or lungs, and how the habit is being marketed to young people.
As far as the district’s responses, in answer to a question at the end of the recent meeting, Demeo said the district is taking its lead from Enns over the issue of vaping.
“We were able to get students to stop smoking, so the question is how do we do this with vaping,” he said.
He said the event is also aimed at educating parents and the wider community who might not be aware of the harmful effects of the habit.
Enns has appeared before local governments lately to provide them with an overview of some of the health issues facing communities and related socioeconomic factors. During a recent presentation to the council in the Village of Cumberland, she mentioned vaping, highlighting how the habit has grown despite headway made to stop smoking. She estimates that at least 25 per cent of students in secondary schools are vaping, though some schools estimate the rate to be between 50 and 70 per cent, as the ways to market vaping products to teens have gotten very sophisticated.
“We now have a whole generation of youth that are taking up vaping,” Enns said. “We lost all of the gains in a matter of a couple of years.”