OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Since the start of this school year, ten students at St. Thomas Aquinas High School have been caught vaping on campus. It's a growing problem at high schools across the country. This year, a small group of local teenagers are working to put a stop to it.
“It’s cool now, like that’s the smoking of our era," said Will Strout, a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
Strout is talking about vaping devices, also called e-cigarettes, which the Food and Drug Administration recently declared an epidemic among teenagers.
“A lot of people are just still kind of in the dark," said Olivia Boster, a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
Boster is leading the Johnson County Teen Task Force at St. Thomas Aquinas, a group focused on preventing underage drinking, drug and tobacco use.
“A lot of kids just don’t care about their health because they feel invincible. Like you’re 17, 18, nothing can happen to you," said Boster.
The popularity of e-cigarettes continues to grow. Many teens believe it's because of the Juul. The Juul is a device that's advertised as a safer way to smoke, and less harmful than cigarettes.
“Kids will do it in the bathrooms. They’ll do it in their cars. They can do it pretty much anywhere since the puff of smoke dissipates so quickly," said Boster.
Boster and Strout are two of the five students trying to make a difference at St. Thomas Aquinas and other schools in the community. The group is attempting to stop students from falling victim to tobacco advertisements or giving in to peer pressure.
After presenting their plan to faculty and staff on Monday, the group plans to take their lessons into nearby middle schools.
“If we could stop one person or tell one person not to do it, that’s a start," said Strout.