SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – As more vaporizer-related illnesses unfold and health officials are unsure of vaping’s side effects, San Francisco schools are focusing on warning students about the dangers that go along with seemingly-healthier alternatives to smoking cigarettes and cannabis.
While vapes continue to emerge as a popular trend among teens, the San Francisco Unified School District is trying to warn students about negative side effects.
KRON4 spoke with some students at John O’Connell Technical High School in the Mission District to find out what exactly students are vaping. The majority of students said cannabis was the most common substance that they witnessed.
“Cannabis,” said one 17-year-old student, who identified himself as Isaiah. “Mostly sophomores and freshmen. It’s a different generation. Before school or after school. They can cover it really well.”
“It’s slightly less harmful than cigarettes, but it’s still not really good for you. It’s not super destructive, but it’s also not helping anything,” Isaiah said.
When asked if vaping is considered “cool,” Isaiah replied, “In the middle. It’s just around.”
While cannabis vaping appears to be more popular in schools than nicotine, Quarry Pak, program administrator of SFUSD School Health Programs, said tobacco use among students is declining.
“On the youth risk behavior survey, it shows a decrease in tobacco use,” she said. “SFUSD has had a tobacco-free policy for many years. On the youth risk behavior survey, it shows a decrease in tobacco use.”
While tobacco use among students was analyzed, statistics on cannabis vapes were not available from the school district.
If a student is caught using a vaporizer on or off campus, discipline measures are mostly focused on awareness and education for students and parents alike.
“We are fortunate to have a system of support of school counselors, nurses, and social workers. A student would be referred to have a one-on-one conversation and be offered support. We would also make efforts to educate parents and caregivers on health information and risks involved. It’s a way to engage students and parents in conversation to make sure they make informed decisions,” Pak said.
In the classroom, teachers are also alerting students to health risks.
“We have lessons that specifically address electronic cigarette and juuling,” Pak said.
Just yards away from the high school’s entrance, supporters of the “Yes On Prop C” campaign posted fliers reading, “Stop Youth Vaping. Preserve Adult Choice.” The advertisement was paid for by organizations including Juul Labs.
To help education students about the dangers of vaping, the school district launched an anti-vaping art contest for its elementary, middle, and high schools to help educate students about known and unknown dangers behind vaping.
Watch anti-vaping videos created by students below:
Elementary School: Claire Lilienthal Elementary School- Camille Pyo
Lincoln High School – Lucas Dong, Ryan Chein, Ashton Li, Alexander Scott, and Aaron Upsornsopakit