With Walmart banning Juuls in September and 1080 proven illnesses and 15 reported deaths linked to vaping across 18 states according to the Center for Disease Control, the effects of vaping are now widely known. In addition, during the 2018-19 school year, vice principal Mike Casper processed 20-30 cases of smoking and drug paraphernalia on campus. This school year, the school district has begun to take action to lessen the presence of drugs on campus with the The Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) group.
“NUSD as a whole wants to crack down on the vaping epidemic that is going rampant through the high schools and middle schools,” Campus Supervisor and TUPE member Tanya Ruano said.
Last year, the group ran through the TUPE state grant and the district established it. The group began as an attempt to bring awareness of health hazards that vaping, tobacco and marijuana bring. The TUPE not only works with vaping and drug-related issues but also collaborates with restorative justice on campus, under the direction of social studies teacher Dave Krakora. Krakora accepted the position of director of the group last year, and will work with restorative justice to provide education for students who were called in for vaping or drug related charges. This year, the group is hoping to expand and have a bigger presence on campus by making periodic announcements and educating other students about the health issues that follow smoking and vaping, while also meeting several times a month at lunch. The TUPE group also hopes to collaborate with the student-led anti-vaping group on campus. The anti- vaping group is led by juniors Kaley Scheppler and Isabella Axelson.
“There has been a lot of stuff in the news lately about people dying and their lungs collapsing,” Scheppler said. “I know it is a big problem at San Marin.”
Scheppler and Axelson, similar to the TUPE group, hope to help students out through their club. The two groups will be separate but will intertwine with some of the activities that they will be holding. However, the student-led anti-vaping group will have its own meeting times and different ideas. Currently, if a student gets caught with drug paraphernalia, a portion of the punishment is being removed from their sports team.
“I think there should be some other type of punishment that happens [when someone gets caught vaping],” Axelson said. “Sports lets you release your energy, you have fun doing it, and you shouldn’t not be on a team for [vaping].”
The TUPE group also understands that the group as a whole might receive push back from students.
“As we all know, there are a lot of students [vaping], and they might see this advocate group as ‘oh that’s lame that you’re doing that’ and ‘if we want to do that than leave us alone,’” Ruano said. “However, your student voice goes much farther than anybody else’s and we want the students going around and advocating for it.”
The group plans to help students develop life skills that they can use outside of high school.
“Some possible benefits [from the group] are increased real knowledge and connections of the dangers of the aforementioned along with an enhanced ability to help present information in a public forum which one can use throughout their life,” Krakora said. “It is a chance to meet like-minded people and have a lot of fun.”