Catalina Foothills School District seeing increase in referrals for students vaping

Catalina Foothills School District seeing increase in referrals for students vaping
Source: Tucson News Now

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A letter sent out to parents of students that go to school in the Catalina Foothills Unified School District (CFUSD) stated that the district has seen, "A recent spike in incidents involving student vaping."

That spike being a 17 percent increase over the past year in the CFUSD where high school students were given disciplinary referrals for vaping. The district cites that current numbers show that 56.2 percent of the districts referrals were for students vaping, compared to 35.6 percent last year.

The district also stated that they have not only seen a problem with e-cigarettes on high school campuses, but on some middle school campuses as well. CFUSD says that all of the referrals contributing to those numbers resulted in the students being suspended from school.

One former Catalina Foothills District student said he can recall seeing people vape on campus when he was young. More recently, his friends have taken it up as a habit and he says they aren't shy about it.

"I have a friend who, we were on a band trip and he was just vaping on the back of the bus," Mischa Olarrea, a senior now attending school in the Tucson Unified School District, said.

Olarrea says that in his experience many of his friends use e-cigarettes because of how they are marketed and he thinks that is a big part of the problem.

"I feel as if they're saying, 'Oh it feels like you're smoking but it doesn't have any of the health effects," Olarrea explains.

Center for Disease Control statistics show the usage of e-cigarettes is widespread. 4.3 million middle schoolers and 11.3 million high schoolers used vapes last month alone, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile the CFUSD says they do not want to comment any further on the issue of e-cigarettes on their campuses, aside from what they stated in their letter to parents. They reiterate that any student caught with an e-cigarette will be punished by school staff and that smoking on any campus in the Catalina Foothills district is not allowed. They shared with Tucson News Now that their goal in sending the letter to parents is to get ahead of the issue of students vaping on campus.

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