I tried to think about how to start this article and how I could communicate my concern about an issue that has growing attention swirling around it. I thought of all the data points and all the politically correct messages that might somehow increase the focus on this for all of us to consider. I want to elicit partnership while being sensitive to our diverse population. I want us all to understand the implications and urgency of the matter and, most importantly, we all want to protect our children. And, I know this is not the only topic where we have to have conversations. There are probably a dozen other things that some may find equally urgent. But, I need to share this message now because the frustration surrounding it is beginning to grow beyond our bounds of understanding. Ready for the message? Here it is:
Vaping is killing our children!
To be quite blunt about it, there is no need to further investigate or explore due diligence on this topic. The smoking and vaping industry is delivering messages to our youngest minds that vaping is somehow safer than cigarettes. That is a lie. They are trying to develop a mythology that no one gets hurt by using these flavored products. That is a lie. They place their products at children’s eye level despite unenforced laws that are supposed to limit their access. More lies and manipulation. There is nothing redeeming about a company that is stating they are not selling to children when in fact they craft their advertisements to specifically target the youngest, most vulnerable demographic.
Without the lies, it is quite simple. Your lungs are not biologically engineered to absorb heated chemicals. They are delicate organs that must only breathe clean air. We can’t complain about air quality in one arena and then allow smoking and vaping to grow and spread before our very eyes. We learned from our FCD visitors last year that any vaping product was putting upwards of 100 chemicals into the lungs between the preservatives, coloring agents, and active ingredients along with the chemicals created during the heating process across the metals involved. This is not for your lungs. Never will be. There is no safe way to breathe things into your body.
My nephew just celebrated the one year anniversary of a double lung transplant. His issue was not related to vaping, but instead was an outgrowth of a childhood virus that caused damage that could not be repaired. But, it is a lesson in the delicate nature of the lungs and the importance of taking care of them. My nephew was lucky that a donor was found and his strength of character is now carrying him forward through life despite the constant fear of rejection associated with this gift. How, in the face of his strength, can we allow kids to have access to these things that are an assault on their fragile and growing bodies? How can we allow them to take a risk with their lives that is now proving so deadly that many states in the U.S. are outright banning these products?
Our policy at ASW is quite clear. We do not allow these products or substances on our campus. We have rules that speak to this and we will take all necessary disciplinary action up to and including expulsion when students choose to break these rules. With my message to staff today, we will continue to aggressively address this issue on a curricular and supervision basis. But, we can’t do this without your help. We need parents to reinforce this message at home with all ages. This has to stop! Smoking and Vaping must end. To any parent out there who is still smoking, please be a model for your children. Find your solution and protect their future. If you need help, reach out to us. We’ll find ways to assist, whether parent or child. Let’s all adopt the same understanding. There is nothing right or acceptable about smoking in ANY form! I hope you will join me in that belief and send that clear message to all who will listen.