According to the American Lung Association, nearly one in five teens nationwide are vaping. Here in Colorado, high school tobacco use rates are at 28%. The American Lung Association is working to reverse that trend through its Vape-Free Schools Initiative. The program provides educators with training to offer alternatives to suspension for students found using tobacco on school property.
“The reason we want an alternative to suspension program is because if you suspend kids for using a very addictive substance, then they are more likely to stay home and vape and they’re missing out on educational opportunities,” says Ellen Penrod, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Colorado.
“With all the kids quitting at once, they have that peer support to really make it to the end. One of the things I love about this program is not only does it help kids quit, but it also helps them with peer pressure. It helps them feel better and have better relationships with their parents because it’s really a whole coping mechanism for them.”
It costs $400 per school to get these programs set up, which is why the American Lung Association has launched the Vape-Free Schools Scholarship Fund. The goal is to raise $400,000 to serve 1,000 schools by the end of 2021. Any school can apply to receive the funding. To donate, visit Lung.org/scholarship.