Editor, Times-Union:

E-cigarettes have been making it into the hands of our youth for over the last decade. These devices pose several risks to health - but that’s not all. Vape use directly impacts a student's ability to learn, as many schools use suspension as punishment for students caught with these devices. The Kosciusko Tobacco Free Coalition is working with school leaders to propose an alternative solution.

Currently, students caught vaping are given a citation and sent to out of school suspension. Live Well currently partners with Kosciusko Teen Court, where students can choose to attend educational sessions in lieu of their ticket.

Recently, The Kosciusko Tobacco Free Coalition connected with smokefree leaders across Northern Indiana right here in Winona Lake. Per strategies utilized by other counties, tobacco free coordinators are working to equip local schools with alternatives to suspension when students are caught vaping.

This would allow school officials to refer students to a different kind of program. This alternative programming would provide educational classes to students and their parents or guardians. It would prevent students from falling behind on regular coursework and further educate them about the dangers of vaping.

Howard County has used this alternative programming in schools, and it has proven to be an effective measure. Instead of just being told vaping is something they are not allowed to do, students begin to better understand the danger.

Jessica Camarena

Live Well Kosciusko

Tobacco Free Coordinator

Warsaw, via email