High School Responds to Vape Crisis
a Public health crisis
By late October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had linked vaping to 1,479 cases of a mysterious lung disease, nationwide. At least 33 people had died, including one in New York State. Surveys report that the incidence of teen vaping continues to rise.
The news prompted Officer Frank Secret, John Jay High School’s resource officer, to propose a bold move—a “Turn in Your Vape: No Questions Asked” kiosk outside of his office in the high school’s main hallway.
Officer Frank Secret, School Resource Officer at John Jay High School
The idea gained immediate support from administrators as a way to actively support the school’s alcohol and drug prevention policy
The kiosk was open one day only: Friday, November 15. It was a simple, three-panel display featuring several news articles about the dangers of vaping. In front of it, on the counter, Officer Secret placed a plastic container with a crosscut on the cover. The initiative was communicated through morning announcements. It also spread through word of mouth.
“I don’t think any other school in the area is doing something like this,” said Officer Secret. “I was a little nervous about it.” He needn’t have been. In one day, students dropped in approximately 20 vapes and two dozen pods. The following Monday, even though the kiosk was gone, students continued to give Officer Secret their vapes.
“I gave mine to my friend and she dropped mine in for me,” said one student.
“Some students turned in pods that were dark. They looked like they had been refilled,” said Officer Secret. “The kids were scared.”
While students at John Jay High School sign a Code of Conduct at the beginning of each year which states that each school of the Katonah-Lewisboro School District is a non-vaping, non-smoking, tobacco-free campus, vaping material has been found in the high school for the last few years. If a student is found with vaping material, he or she is suspended. However, there are signs that vaping at John Jay High School may be decreasing. The quantity of vaping material found in the school’s bathrooms is less than last year, reports Officer Secret.
Days after John Jay High School’s “Turn in Your Vape: No Questions Asked,” a second vape-related death was confirmed in New York State. The school plans to have another “turn in your vape day” in the spring. “In the meantime,” said Principal Steven Siciliano, “students are encouraged to hand over devices at any time—no questions asked—to Officer Secret and families are encouraged to have conversations at home about the dangers of vaping.”