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Kansas teens working to stop vaping in classrooms

More teens than ever are smoking e-cigs — but not always with nicotine
Posted at 9:55 PM, Jun 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-17 23:22:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — No matter the time of day, Olivia Boster says could walk into a bathroom at her high school and find someone vaping.

"Kids are really smart about how to hide them," she said. "They look like flash drives or pens or they got really tiny ones that are disposable."

Electronic cigarettes rapidly heat liquid containing nicotine and release an odorless, sometimes flavored, vapor.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated last year more than 3.6 million U.S. middle and high school students had used an e-cigarette in the past month.

School districts have started cracking down.

In Blue Valley, students caught vaping on campus can face a five-day suspension.

Last week, the Kansas State Board of Education voted to require schools to warn students of the dangers of vaping, starting next year.

"It's a lot easier to use and hide discreetly, in clothes and sweatshirts and stuff. The smell, you don't really smell it as much," Alyssa Canning said.

Now a high school sophomore, Canning is also working towards curbing e-cigarette use. She said a lot of the unknown is what attracted her to joining the Kansas health department's Resist Tobacco program, which Boster is also apart of.

"[Teens] are like my age thinking, 'Nothing can kill me now.' When in reality, this very well could kill them," Boster said.

Researchers do not yet know the full health consequences of vaping.

"A lot of students don't really know what they are putting into their bodies and they don't know all of the dangers of vaping," Canning said. "It could be deadly later on."

Several municipalities in Missouri and Kansas have prohibited the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to people under the age of 21.

Kansas City, Overland Park, Olathe, Johnson County and Wyandotte County are among the municipalities that have adopted tobacco 21 policies.