Vaping enforcement underway at Peterborough-area schools

Health officials in Peterborough have issued several dozen charges and warnings for vaping on school properties so far this school year.

Peterborough Public Health (PPH) says its Tobacco Enforcement Officers have laid 15 charges and issued 22 warnings for vaping on schools (public and Catholic) in both the city and county during the 2018-2019 school year.

“As educators who care deeply about the health and well-being of all of our students and staff, we welcome the support from PPH to create a safe and healthy environment at TAS,” stated Laura Doucette, vice-principal at Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School in Peterborough.

“We offer a variety of programs and partner with a range of agencies to support our students, but sadly some students aren’t getting the message.”

The health unit and school boards are working together to prevent vaping and to inform students and the community about the harms caused by e-cigarettes.

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) prohibits the smoking or vaping of e-cigarettes, cigarettes, and cannabis not only inside schools but also 20 metres from school property lines.

“To ensure compliance with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, it is crucial that we build strong relationships with school officials,” said Courtney Howe, tobacco enforcement officer.

“If students are found to be in contravention of the Act, we work with school staff to find the best way to enforce the Act. Sometimes, the best way is to issue a ticket for a $305 fine.”

Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, medical officer of health, says a larger focus includes supporting elementary and secondary schools with curriculum-linked tobacco and vaping prevention programs as well as cessation groups for students who want to quit smoking or vaping.

“While e-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, that doesn’t make them harmless,” she said.

“The rate at which teens are starting to use e-cigarettes is alarming; so much so that the US. Surgeon General declared e-cigarette use by youth to be an epidemic.

“The nicotine delivered by these products can have a significant impact on a teen’s developing brain – affecting everything from behaviour to memory to concentration – and the long-term effects of these products are still unknown.”

A survey conducted by the health unit in 2016 found 24 per cent of students in the city and county had tried an e-cigarette.

Resources on how to talk with youth about vaping are available on the health unit’s website.

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