Lawrence school district event to explain dangers of e-cigarettes, how to help students quit

photo by: AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

In this April 10, 2018, file photo, a high school principal displays vaping devices that were confiscated from students in such places as restrooms or hallways at the school in Massachusetts.

Lawrence residents will have the opportunity this week to learn about the effects that e-cigarettes are having on students.

The Lawrence school district is inviting the local community to attend a presentation about the dangers of teenage use of e-cigarettes, also known as “vaping,” during a public information meeting on Wednesday. The event, “Seeing Through the Vapor,” is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of Lawrence High School, 1901 Louisiana St.

Julie Boyle, a spokeswoman for the school district, said the presentation by lecturer Robert Hackenson aimed to help parents identify whether their children were vaping and how they could get help to quit.

“It’s geared toward informing parents and youth about the dangers of e-cigarette use,” she said.

Along with the presentation, the event will include information booths from LMH Health, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and the school district’s chapter of RESIST, a student-led anti-tobacco group in Kansas, among others.

Many education and health officials from around the country in recent months have raised the alarm about the dangers of the use of e-cigarettes, including addiction and even death. Some have noted that the advertising for e-cigarettes is not regulated, allowing companies to market their products, which often include fruity flavors, to underage users.

The Lawrence district considers teenage e-cigarette use to be an epidemic and has pushed for local governments to raise the age limit to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21, which is known as Tobacco 21 or T-21. The school district and local health officials argue that raising the age to 21 would make it harder for high school students, some of whom are 18 or older, to have access to tobacco products.

Although the Douglas County Commission approved a T-21 ordinance, the Lawrence City Commission has not.

At the state level, a group called the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition said it was drafting legislation to raise the age limit from 18 to 21 for the Kansas Legislature to consider, and the Kansas State Board of Education recently received a policy proposal that would ban the use of tobacco and e-cigarette use by students, faculty and visitors on all public school property.

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