State and local organizations continue fight against teen vaping

TOPEKA, Kan (WIBW) -- USD 265 Goddard School Board Members unanimously approved the district’s lawsuit against manufacturers distributors, and sellers of e-cigarettes and vaping products.

“It is our responsibility as a school district to protect the kids from what we feel is a crisis and growing crisis, and one that is being sold as an alternative to safe smoking,” Board President Kevin McWhorter.

It’s a decision the state’s e-cigarette and vape task force applauded during their monthly update to the State Board of Education.

“They’re making the connection between what Juul has done in terms of marketing their product and how big tobacco attempted to get youth using their product,” Mark Thompson with the State Department of Education said.

The Task Force, created in July, has worked to provide information to students and parents about the dangers of vaping.

During Tuesday’s meeting the School Board approved a new anti-tobacco flyer to be used in schools. A previous one did not mention specifically vapes.

“The issue with that is that people don’t recognize vape as a tobacco product, so the recommended that we put vaping exclusively on signage,” Jordan Roberts with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said.

Members of the task force also support Tobacco 21. It is a bill that will be proposed to legislators that seeks to make all tobacco products, including vapes, illegal for anyone under 21.

“The more you can delay that use or prevent that use the more likely it is that you’re going to keep people from a life-long habit of nicotine addiction,” Thompson said.

As they continue their work the group hopes to expand its reach.

“We added a school counselor. We added a school safety resource officer. We’re looking to expand so that we have more representation at the college level,” Thompson added.