Milford Blog: Vaping. Drawing a Line in the Sand

  • Vaping. I’m not sure how much you know about it yet, but I believe it is something we, as parents, should have on our radar.  Over the past two years, we have seen more and more instances where vaping has become pervasive in the youth culture nationwide and we have begun more aggressive measures at Maclay.  The technology for vaping or e-cigarettes has been around for some time but the mass marketing and availability of the devices and options have exploded over the last year.  Some youth see these as a “safer” alternative to some of the other risky or illegal options for their self-medication. A recent CBS Report stated that one Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.  The risks are there, and they need our help by being informed and vigilant to keep their health and their futures from being compromised.  

    On April 2nd, an article in the NYT, I Can’t Stop: Schools Struggle with Vaping Explosion, shed light on a nationwide battle schools are having with this issue.  It has certainly ramped up over the last two years and it is something Maclay is not immune to.  The unique challenge of vaping is the ability to conceal the devices and their use.  If you don’t know what you are looking for, they could be used in the back of a class or in your backseat while you are driving home.  Some devices are specifically made to be concealed and some clothiers make clothes for this specific purpose.  This, just like any other battle for the safest passage through adolescence, is worth the fight and why I’m writing to you. 

    Maclay has had multiple parent and student sessions over the last two years on the topic of substance abuse and the latest trends in Tallahassee.  We have invested heavily in our counseling department and keep the Maclay Counseling Webpage up to date with relevant information to help our students and our parents be better equipped for the challenges of parenting in 2018. 

    Last week, 11 United States Senators began pressuring Juul, a leader in e-cigarette nicotine products regarding their kid-friendly products.  A letter to the company stated,  

    “Your company’s popular vaping device and its accompanying flavored nicotine cartridges are undermining our nation’s efforts to reduce tobacco use among youth and putting an entire new generation of children at risk of nicotine addiction and other health consequences.”  The letter continued, “Your company’s product purports to help people quit smoking cigarettes yet we are concerned that Juul – with is kid-appealing design and flavoring – will only lead to further nicotine addiction and adverse health consequences.” 

    One quote that jumped out at me from the NYT article was, “It’s the one risky thing that you can do in your life – with little consequence, in their mind – to show that you’re a little bit of a rebel.”   

    I can proudly say that as the premier college prep Independent School in the Big Bend, we have high expectations for ourselves and our students.  We all must realize that these high expectations for performance, come with the necessity of the high expectation of self-awareness, self-care, and maintaining balance in our students' lives.  Balance is one of the three pillars on which our mission rests and, as such, we must be mindful that our students don’t get pressed to the point they feel they need an illegal substance to “escape” the pressure and “self-medicate”.  This generation has almost everything at their disposal and we have found that vaping has become an easy and accessible answer nationwide for youth, and we need to address and stay ahead of this in our Maclay community. 

    So, what is our community to do?  Our partnership will always be the answer when it comes to the Maclay Community.  We have already begun conversations within the administration regarding our handbook policies to ensure the proper protections and consequences are at our disposal as the landscape of substance use and abuse is constantly changing.  We have had and will continue to have assemblies for students and training for faculty this year on the dangers of vaping and how to recognize it.  We will continue to have speakers address our community and share information for you via the website to support our partnership as we work together to keep our students and your children, inspired, determined, and unstoppable. 

    I’ve included a few pictures of the devices used by youth who may be vaping – notice how many of them look like objects in your home that would typically sit on your kitchen table or child's desk.  Our policies are clear about this prohibited activity on campus and at Maclay events.  I share all this information to make sure we are all informed of the growing presence of the option to the list of potentially harmful options that the world has for our children.  

    Two tips.  First, many vaping options have "fruity" smelling vapor, this is one of the things we look/smell for on campus and at events.  Second, pay attention to your family's online order history.  It is easy for our children to click the "over 18" box online and use your saved credit card and password information to have many things shipped to your house or drop-shipped elsewhere.   

    As always, thank you for your partnership and support as we continue to make the Maclay Experience an unmatched one.  I wish I could protect all my students from every negative thing out there.  Alas, I cannot.  However, I will not look the other way and let this take root in our school. 

    Yours in Maclay, 



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