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Quakertown student cites vaping growth on campus

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Junior Sam Barndt is calling on the district to do more about the vaping problem at Quakertown Community School District.

Barndt, who highlighted the issue during a report to school board members and administrators at their December meeting, said bathrooms were routinely referred to as Juul rooms. But it’s not just the bathrooms. Students have been caught vaping in school buses, the cafeteria, and even classrooms, according to the district’s School Resource Officer Robert Lee.

Lee confirmed recently there have been about 16 vaping violations so far this year at the high school and 12 at Strayer Middle School, but those figures only represent the tip of the iceberg. Lee, who is primarily based at the high school, said the problem is so bad that the only 100 percent effective deterrent would be a bathroom attendant.

Ubiquitous at convenience stores, Juul is one popular vaping device that is branded as an alternative to cigarettes; however, just one pod is the equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Students caught smoking cigarettes or vaping are given detentions or suspended, but Barndt said by high school, being suspended doesn’t deter his peers from resuming “juuling,” the trendy term for the habit. He also

questioned the effectiveness of nicotine programs. “That doesn’t really change their mindset; they do it again.”

Barndt encouraged the district to have active discussions with students about the issue. “Let students know there are negative effects related to this. We need to stop them from continuing.”

Superintendent William Harner said the district was looking at acquiring wanding devices to help detect the paraphernalia, some of which look like flash drives, and whose slender frames can be easily concealed under clothing. He also said the district would begin fining violators when school resumes Jan. 2.

A 2017 Pennsylvania Youth survey, which the district participated in, showed an increase in vaping among Quakertown 10th- and 12th-graders. Twenty-five percent of sophomores said they had vaped in the past month, up from 18 percent in 2015. Thirty-three percent of seniors admitted vaping over the same time period, up from 27 percent in 2015. Both grades were above state averages.


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