50 students face vaping violations this year in Hernando County

Vaping is becoming such a problem among teens that schools are developing public service announcements and meetings for parents to learn about the risks.

After only a month into the school year in Hernando County, administrators said they’ve already had 50 vaping violations from students.

“It’s alarming. It has gotten our attention,” said Janice Smith, a substance abuse professional with Hernando County Schools.

Hernando County schools organized a meeting Wednesday to educate teachers, parents, and students about vaping. For Central High School senior Hannah Harper, prevention is personal.

“My grandpa was actually diagnosed with stage four lung cancer when I was in middle school, so that’s when I decided to join Students Working Against Tobacco,” said Harper. “[I] thought maybe if I could make a difference with kids in my age group, then maybe I wouldn’t have to see my friends go through what my grandpa went through when I got older.”

A new survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found the number of teenagers vaping double in the last two years.

“Oh yeah, I would say it’s a pretty good amount. You try not to be a narc, but when you see kids picking up their hoodie and putting their mouth towards it, it’s just kind of, it’s always suspicious,” said Harper.

Bay Area schools including Hillsborough and Pinellas moved to ban the devices before the school year started.

Hernando County deputies shared that students caught vaping face suspension and a fine or even a felony if the device has marijuana inside. The headlines of severe illness and death are on educators’ minds.

“It reinforces the dangers of it,” said Smith. “As a matter of fact, within the school district, my partner and I, respond to the emergency rooms on a regular basis from students who have ingested too much of the nicotine oil and the marijuana oil.”

In the last three years, school administrators said they went from 30 vaping violations to 300, and they are seeing vaping at high schools and middle schools district-wide.

“It’s so preventable. We just have to speak up,” said Harper.