Vaping teenagers remain a problem at Galt High, following national trends

The+U.S.+Food+and+Drug+Administration+reports+that+14%25+of+high+school+students+admit+to+using+e-cigarettes%2C+while+27.6%25+of+those+students+say+they+vape+at+least+once+a+day.+Pixabay.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that 14% of high school students admit to using e-cigarettes, while 27.6% of those students say they vape at least once a day. Pixabay.

By Josh Cullers, Galt High School

Just like the rest of the country, Galt High has in recent years seen an increase in problems with students vaping on campus – and the administration has taken steps this year to deal with the problem.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that 14% of high school students admit to using e-cigarettes, while 27.6% of those students say they vape at least once a day

Galt High administrators have noticed an increase in problems within the last decade, assistant principal Alan Posey said.

“(The problem has increased) the last six years for both nicotine and THC (marijuana),” Posey said.

The surge in teenage vaping has led the GHS administration to work with local law enforcement to deal with the problem, Posey said.

There has been more money available for counseling, for kids that are addicted to stuff like that,” Posey said. “The other thing would be vape detectors they installed. And that was through a grant to the police department that officer (Anthony) Castaneda, who was here last year, (secured). He applied for that a year ago. So he ended up getting (them) installed in the summer.

Because the money came from the police department, the Galt City Council got involved in vaping problems with schools all across Galt, Mayor Shawn Farmer said.

So primarily issues like this would really be dealt with at the school district level because then they have school boards that would deal with that, just like we deal with city problems,” Farmer said. “Oftentimes you don’t always get an overlap there. But sometimes you do. In this case, there’s an overlap because … it’s a public safety issue. So it had to be dealt with. Part of the solution was coming to the police department.

The vape detectors were approved along with other tasks for the Galt PD, Farmer said.

With that grant money, there (were) vape detectors, but also there (were) going to be some sting operations set up for you know, members of PD or task force … to do, like sting operations with liquor stores and things to … see if they were selling to underage (kids),” Farmer said.

Now that the vape detectors have been installed on campus, it has been helping to keep staff prepared to deal with problems that arise, said newly hired campus supervisor Chad Harper.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to receive messages when those sensors go off and then when those sensors go off, I go out, investigate and see what’s going on as far as who’s in the bathroom,” Harper said.

Despite these ongoing efforts, he added, the best path forward is to increase awareness with parents.

“I think a lot of it is making people aware of this stuff, it doesn’t start here on campus – it starts at home,” Harper said. “We don’t sell the things that go to those (students) on campus, and then we’re trying to sometimes play catch up for what’s actually going on.”

Farmer echoed these sentiments.

Parents need to be a big lead on this too,” Farmer said. “At the end of the day, the school district can only be in charge of doing so much and the city can only be in charge of so much when it comes to our young people or young adults and our school aged-children. Parents really are the first line of defense, they have to be proactive in their kids’ lives.

Students, too, are beginning to feel the effects of their peers vaping on campus. It becomes annoying when a student cannot use the bathroom because other students aren’t following the rules, sophomore Aydin Interiano said.

As a student, to use the restroom, it’s a further inconvenience to have to walk all the way (across campus),” Interiano said. “And you might even get reported as late.

Despite the policies put in place by the school administration and the city, students who vape see no point in stopping vaping on campus as they will continue to do so off campus, said one student who asked to remain anonymous

“You can’t stop us,” the student said. “If anything, these rules are going to make us want to do it more. I feel like anyone should be able to do what they want, it’s their life.”

Even with students seeing vaping as a harmless way to have fun in school, it has long-lasting consequences that will affect students in the future, Posey said.

A lot of kids… get addicted to nicotine in high school with this type of stuff where it’s really easy and seems harmless, but then … ends up costing them a lot of money or, you know, harming them health-wise down the road,” Posey said. “Because it’s pretty hard to get rid of an addiction to nicotine. It’s been shown that it’s not good for young people’s brain development.