State Board of Education will take up recommendations aimed at reducing vaping

Alarmed by drastic increases in the use of e-cigarettes by Kansas students, the State Board of Education next week will consider recommendations aimed at curbing vaping among young people.

The State Board meets Tuesday and Wednesday, June 11-12. The e-cigarette issue will be considered Tuesday afternoon. Here is a link to the board’s agenda and backup materials.

Last month, K-12 and state health officials reported significant increases in the use of e-cigarettes, warned about the health problems and addictive qualities of vaping and said new devices are enabling young people to use e-cigarettes secretively in school and use them with illegal drugs.

In response, the State Board directed Education Commissioner Randy Watson to convene a workgroup of education and health officials, including KASB, to put together some recommendations.

Those recommendations will be presented to the board for possible approval. “The overarching goal is to create school environments where students chose to not begin use of vaping products or, if currently using, have access to cessation guidance strategies,” a memo from the Kansas State Department of Education says.

Earlier, David Stubblefield, executive director of school administration for Blue Valley USD 229, said vaping had “exploded exponentially in the last two or three years.”

Students are able to use e-cigarette devices secretively in school because the devices resemble USB flash drives or key fobs.

He said the Blue Valley district confronted the issue by approving comprehensive policies banning tobacco and tobacco related products, starting education programs at the elementary school level and working on smoking cessation programs to help students who have become addicted.

From 2017 to 2018, the prevalence of e-cigarette use increased 78 percent, from 11.7 percent to 20.8 percent among U.S. high school students, which has erased recent declines in the use of other tobacco products by young people, according to a federal study. In 2017, 34.8 percent of Kansas high school students tried e-cigarettes and 10.6 percent said they regularly use e-cigarettes, according to a state survey. Health officials have said those numbers have risen since then.

In other business on Tuesday, the board will recognize Kansas principals of the year and receive information on the Success Academy for foster students through Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas and the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

On Wednesday, the board will start discussions on the fiscal year 2021 budget recommendations; review recently approved education legislation and receive an update on teacher vacancies and teacher licensure.

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