WINONA LAKE – The Tobacco Free Coalition at Live Well Kosciusko recently had the opportunity to host leaders who make up the Northern Region of the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Division of the Indiana Department of Health.
Thanks to a matching gift of Kosciusko Cash by the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce, participants enjoyed lunch at Cerulean. Buffalo Street Emporium & Books provided gifts of chocolate and biscotti.
Attendees spent the afternoon discussing the way local middle and high schools handle students who are caught vaping. For many schools, the only option they have is suspension and citation. Several coordinators from other counties shared their efforts to bring an alternative to out-of-school suspension.
“One county coordinator shared information about the educational classes they give to students and their parents or guardians instead of giving a suspension and citation,” said Coordinator Jessica Camarena.
Education informs participants about the dangers of vaping and the high risks to a person’s health. Educating students rather than an out-of-school suspension prevents the student from falling behind in their normal learning and coursework by keeping them in school and in their classes.
Currently, local school policies and Indiana legal code require students who are caught with tobacco or vapes to be suspended and receive a ticket. Live Well currently partners with teen court where students can choose to attend educational sessions in lieu of their ticket.
Live Well Tobacco Free Coordinators, Jessica Camarena and Kim Huntsman, are now working to implement these educational sessions in lieu of suspension in Kosciusko County Schools. Additionally, they are giving presentations to students in local schools as a method of prevention.
“School administrators, PE/Health teachers, board members, and the law enforcement community have been extremely supportive of the initiative and are working in collaboration with the 26 members of the Tobacco Free Coalition,” explained Lisa Harman, CEO of Live Well Kosciusko.
“Right now, the goal is to educate students, parents and our community,” says Camarena.
Vape-Free Indiana provides resources for Indiana youth, parents, and school staff including administrators, teachers, and health care providers, who are working to address the use of tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes in schools. Visit www.in.gov/vapefreeindiana/ to find resources. Teens and young adults ages 13-24 who need help quitting can text DITCHVAPE to 88709. Call 800 Quit Now (800 784 8669) for free help!