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Principal Addresses Vaping Issue at HS

Stock photo of young person vaping
Dr. Denita Dowell-Reavis/Communications Director


The principal at Alexander Central High School is on a campaign to quash student vaping. Jacob Lail deals with vaping incidents practically every day at school. He’s calling on parents, students, and the community to help control the problem.

“Students get vapes several ways. Some high schoolers have older friends or a brother or sister buy the vapes. Some buy vapes online. Some stores in our area do not verify the student’s age and sell to them,” says Lail.

Vapes are not to be sold to customers 18 or younger in North Carolina, but the age restrictions don’t deter some young people. Compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic, teen smoking and vaping is down across the country according to the Annual National Youth Tobacco Survey. However, Lail believes any amount of teen vaping is too much. He blames much of the local trend on advertising.

“These devices are being marketed to our young people through flavor options and the fact that they can be disguised as things such as school supplies, like pens, highlighters, and flash drives.” 

Lail says students can get a functioning pen that can hold a cartridge for around $40 online.

Taylorsville Police Chief Mike Millsaps, a former School Resource Officer, calls the vaping problem uncontrollable.

“The solution has to lie with the home. If we don’t get their (parents’) help, it’s going to be a losing battle.”

Millsaps agrees the marketing is clever, so parents need to know how vapes can be disguised and sold. He also says if students are smoking marijuana in vapes, parents should easily detect that smell.

The Alexander County Sheriff believes education is the best solution and is worried about what could happen if students and parents aren’t warned about vapes.

“I believe that vaping is being used as a gateway drug to marijuana and other drugs,” says Sheriff Chad Pennell. 

Pediatric journals support Pennell’s fears.  Studies found that while nicotine remains the most common substance encountered in vaping devices, cannabis vaping is now reported by one-third of youth who vape.  

North Carolina requires middle and high schools to educate students on substance use disorders and the dangers of vaping. Students watch videos about vaping and other substance abuse problems in health class. 

The high school student support teams and district leaders are working with the Alexander County Health Department and local law enforcement to publish an anti-vaping message. Lail will publish a series of public service announcements about vaping in the next few weeks.

According to an article in a nicotine and tobacco research journal published just months ago, despite the decline over the past few years, E-Cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco products by American young people.