Dear SLPHS and Westwood Families:
We want to make you aware of an issue that is affecting schools, students and families throughout the state and nation. While the vast majority of our students are making positive choices, schools are seeing more students who are using vaping tobacco products. These products are cheap and easily accessed by teens. The products are often made with candy flavors and are being marketed to middle and high school age students. In conversations with principals in other districts, it is clear that this issue is affecting students throughout the metro area. Student use of vaping products in our district is primarily among high school students, but we want to engage middle school families to increase their awareness and prevent the issue from growing to a larger number of students.
As principals at the high school and Westwood, we are strongly urging parents to be aware of vaping products and intervene with your student if you believe they are using these products. Vaping is more addictive than smoking cigarettes and information released from the CDC and other organizations indicate vaping causes permanent, physical damage to the user. As a result, we focus on and devote curricular time in our health courses and advisories to support our students in making healthy and safe choices as young adults. This learning includes the effects of tobacco, which has been updated to include vaping. Additionally, we have included several links to information about vaping and vaping products to support your ability to discuss the risks related to vaping with your children. Please take time to read this information and to learn more about this issue.
Meanwhile, students who are found using vaping products while at school, or on buses or school property will face appropriate discipline. We will also be partnering with local police departments on potential charges as appropriate. Below are the guidelines we will follow regarding the use of vaping products:
- The use of a vape or vape product will result in an immediate suspension, and the discipline will increase with further offenses
- If a child is caught with a vape vial or bottle that contains THC/marijuana, the police department will be notified since possession of THC is a felony
- Since vaping is also a violation of the Minnesota State High School League rules, students found using a vaping product will lose privileges to compete and participate in sports
- While it is legal for students over the age of 18 to use tobacco and vaping products, using these products at school is not allowed. Our district has a school-based policy that does not allow for the use or possession of nicotine, drugs and alcohol, which is enforced regardless of age.
Along with connecting with students at school, we are reaching out to you proactively, because as administrators and parents ourselves, we ask that you partner with us to decrease student use of vaping products. Again, we included links to resources below to support your conversations about the dangers of vaping with your son or daughter.
We appreciate your ongoing support and partnership.
Matthew Boucher, Principal, Spring Lake Park High School
Tom Larson, Principal, Westwood Middle and Intermediate School
The websites below explain the dangers of the use of vaping products:
Star Tribune- Minnesota schools battle 'epidemic' of teen vaping
MSN- More than 1.3 million high school student started vaping nicotine in the past year, study says
Surgeon General- Know the risks, e-cigarettes and young people