How the Sandpoint High School Administration in combatting the nation-wide vaping epidemic.


Sandpoint High School is facing the daunting task of trying to combat the recent nationwide trend of underage vaping. Surgeon General reported the number of underage e-cigarette users has increased 900% in four years. Recently, the number of students who vape during school has increased drastically as well. Students who are trying to get a “head-high” are really just causing a headache.

Sandpoint High School teachers and administrators have caught students vaping in bathrooms, the parking lot, sports events, classrooms, hallways, and pretty much any other spot one can think of. In just the first 10 days of this school year, Resource Officer Spencer Smith has confiscated two devices at the high school, as well as a couple other around the district. Last year Smith said he confiscated around 40 different e-cigarettes.  

The vaping problem is more than just a distraction, as health and legality risks are at stake for high schoolers as well. Vice-Principal Derek Dickinson says the first step in addressing the problem is education.

“It’s not one size fits all with [E-Cigarettes]. There are so many different types and shapes so it’s really about educating our staff to be mindful of them.” said Dickinson.

So far he says he has shown the staff videos on the different kinds of vapes, and the various tricks kids are using to get away with it during class. Last spring Dickinson gave a presentation to the staff to educate them about the signs kids may show when they are vaping, including the smell and things they do to dissipate the vapor, such as blowing it into their sleeve.

Although this is one way to catch young vapers, trying to confront the issue is a very large task. Today, vaping is such an accepted and normal thing for high school students that when one sees another vaping, they barely bat an eye.

“The problem I’m running into now, is that it’s fully accepted. I can have kids vaping on the bus, or in the bathroom, and no one thinks twice.” said Smith

The problem I’m running into now, is that it’s fully accepted. I can have kids vaping on the bus, or in the bathroom, and no one thinks twice.”

— Officer Spencer Smith

Kids may walk into a bathroom to see three or four people huddled in a stall, with a cloud rising out of the top. They may even see someone vape in class, and then ask for a “hit” themsleves. It has become part of everyday life, so students rarely even think of the consequences it can bring.

“I used to think if that if someone was vaping it would be a huge deal and super rebellious, but now it’s like so common that I don’t really think anything of it.” said Sophomore Brigit Wilder.

Vaping is illegal for people under 18 years of age and even when they are over 18, it is banned on Sandpoint’s campus. This means that if a student is caught vaping at school, they could face legal penalties. As of now, the consequences for the first offense of vaping could include: a $77.50 citation, two days of in school suspension, parental contact, and an enrollment in an hour long nicotine awareness course. Second offense is all of this plus two more days of in school suspension, and third offense is all of this and the student will be kicked out of school for five days.

Despite the backlash upon students, not all of the blame can be pinned on them. Large vape companies such as Juul, MarkTen, Blu, Vuse and Logic are being pressured by the FDA as to whether or not they have been targeting their products towards teenagers. Juul offers flavors such as mango and fruit medley and, until recently, their ads featured younger models laughing with Juul products in their hand. The FDA feels this is unnecessary if their product was really made to help people stop smoking.

“If you put yourself in the tobacco manufacturers shoes, they would much rather target their product to a teen who has 50 maybe 60 years left to live and buy their product, than someone who is middle aged, and only has maybe 30 to 40. It’s all perspective, they are basically a legalized drug dealer.” said Tigert.

The FDA gave the vape companies 60 days to prove whether or not they are marketing their products to teens. If they can’t provide definitive evidence by November 11th, their flavors will be taken off the market, excluding the basic tobacco flavoring.

This current generation is the guinea pigs for the future of vaping. A hundred years ago or so, no one knew of the terrible effects of cigarette, and they have killed thousands of people since. Today, no one really knows completely of the harmful effects of e-cigarettes. This has caused a naive way of thinking for high schoolers.

“There are two things high schoolers think: It’s never going to happen to me, and it’s not that big of a deal,” said Tigert.

One thing is certain about the increasing presence of e-cigarettes in high schools: the battle of the badges vs the badges has just begun.