KATY (Covering Katy News) – The Katy Independent School District, in partnership with the American Heart Association signed a Board of Trustees resolution to help raise awareness around the dangers of vaping and the misinformation presented by e-cigarette companies. The partnership, officially established at Monday night’s school board meeting, is designed to encourage parents, students and staff to demand accountability of truth from e-cigarette companies and empower them with facts and educational tools to help shed a light on this growing health epidemic.
The number of adolescents nationwide who vape has more than doubled in just the past two years, to five million, according to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey. In Katy ISD, the District Police Department has also seen a large increase in dispatch calls regarding vaping.
In the 2016-2017 school year, there was 65 police calls regarding tobacco related (e-Cigarette) reports, compared with the 2018-2019 school year – 170 reports. The District has also seen growth in incident reports on campuses that involve e-cigarettes or vaping from 263 incident reports in 2018 to 565 in 2019.
Katy ISD reinforces tobacco, drug and alcohol abuse awareness through elementary and secondary curriculums. At the elementary level, the Katy ISD K-5 science curriculum includes specific resources to support the instruction of the health TEKS associated with drug, tobacco, nicotine and alcohol prevention. Instruction and discussions are aimed at educating students on refusal skills, the effects of those products, learning to recognize pressures, and developing skills to resist pressures.
“CATCH My Breath” is a program utilized at the District’s secondary level to help students build knowledge and skills to resist media influences and peer pressure to try e-cigarettes and vaping. All high school health teachers have received training on the “CATCH My Breath” curriculum and have been implementing this instruction since Fall 2019.
AHA has noted that one e-cigarette pod can contain at least as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. Likewise, youth who vape are particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction, which rewires the developing brain. Illegal vaping methods can also contain high levels of THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is a chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects on the brain.
Effective December 2019, the United States Food & Drug Administration raised the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 years of age. A person commits an offense if the person is in possession of a burning tobacco product, smokes tobacco, or operates an e-cigarette in a facility of a public primary or secondary school. An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
This school year, Katy ISD has also launched a number of informational videos on topics impacting youth, including vaping, social media threats and bullying. All of these videos can be accessed on the Katy ISD YouTube channel.
An anti-vaping public service announcement video produced by Katy ISD is below.
The Legacy Parent Academy “Vaping 101” presentation is below.