With the use of nicotine vaporizers and electronic cigarettes — known as “e-cigarettes” or “vaping” — on the rise among U.S. high school students, one Lodi principal has decided to take a proactive approach to address the issue.

“No public high school is immune to this thing, because it’s a popular trend,” Lodi High School Principal Bob Lofsted said on Wednesday.

According to a December 2018 article by New York Times reporter Jan Hoffman, a study conducted by the University of Michigan sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that approximately 21 percent of high school seniors vaped within the previous 30 days of the study, compared to roughly 11 percent the year before. Although not as dangerous as traditional cigarettes, nicotine use can still impact teenagers’ developing brains, the article said.

In a Friday email sent to parents, Lofsted warned of a “vaping epidemic that has hit Lodi High and schools nationwide,” and that students can sometimes use e-cigarettes without their parents’ knowledge.

“It’s not like we’re getting overrun,” Lofsted said on Wednesday. “Our intent was to be proactive so that parents can know what’s going on and help us deal with it.”

E-cigarettes do not produce smoke and can sometimes resemble other devices such as USB drives, Lofsted said, making them easier for students to hide from their parents than traditional cigarettes.

“That’s why so many schools across the country are having problems with it,” Lofsted said.

In addition to nicotine, Lofsted said vaporizers can also be used to consume marijuana.

“It’s not as much of a problem as regular vaping, but it is certainly an issue,” Lofsted said.

Although students caught vaping on campus can face penalties including on-campus intervention, fines of up to $390 and/or suspension depending on the substance being “vaped,” Lofsted said the ease of concealment and availability of fruit flavors still make vaping attractive to some students.

“It’s too easy to do and it tastes too good, so too many kids are doing it,” Lofsted said. “For Lodi High, we want parents to be aware before it becomes an epidemic. We’re trying to turn this trend around before it gets more problematic than it already is.”

Avery Self, a sophomore at Lodi High, said on Wednesday that although she is not aware of vaping being widespread among her classmates, she does know that the school has a zero-tolerance policy.

“They don’t really allow it at our school, and when (students) get caught, they get suspended immediately,” Self said.

Freshman Madison Parsons said that as she and most of her friends are athletes, none of them have taken up vaping due to the potential health risks.

“We all know that it’s bad because we learned about it in school,” Parsons said.

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