Dear Parents and Guardians,
Student health and safety is our main priority, and the OMI administration is keenly aware of the national vaping trend among teenagers. We are actively engaged in multiple prevention and intervention efforts to provide a safe campus environment and to best provide for the health and well-being of your student.
We want to take this opportunity to share with you some information about e-cigarettes, tell you about some of the steps we have taken on campus to educate students about the health risks, and provide you with resources to have a conversation with your student. We want to provide more information not only on resources available but also the school policy and supervision to ensure your child is in a safe environment.
OMI's commitment to maintaining a healthy, safe, respectful, and positive environment involves insisting on and partnering with families to create a drug and alcohol free campus. Our Student-Family Handbook states that any student found to be in possession of objects, paraphernalia, substances, materials, items related to the use of, or production of, illegal substances may face significant disciplinary action.
E-cigarettes are known by many different names and are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and "juuls." Of particular attention are Juuls which resemble USB sticks, though other devices resemble pens, markers, and other everyday items. Click on the link below to see images of these devices:
E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Most have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold a liquid. The heating element in an e-cigarette heats a liquid to produce an ultrafine aerosol mist which is inhaled deeply into the lungs. The liquid can be used to deliver flavorings, nicotine, and marijuana. The aerosol can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances that can damage the lungs and heart, and can negatively impact adolescent brain development. Using an e-cigarette is referred to as “vaping.”
We supervise students and we follow-up immediately when we become aware of a health or safety concern on campus. The innocuous ‘look’ of the juuls, the lack of smell or odor they emit, the ability of students to use quickly and without noticeable smoke - all of that makes vaping especially pernicious and difficult to root out.
At OMI every 9th grade cadet receives education on the health risks associated with nicotine use in their semester long health class. All freshman students learn about addiction and the health risks associated with smoking/e-cis as part of the Peer Health Exchange course throughout the year. In addition, our safety dog is trained to identify marijuana in e-cigarettes. We are also integrating additional prevention and intervention education to our LOC/PE curriculum for all students this year.
Vaping at OMI is prohibited and will result in suspension. It is illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase e-cigarettes California. While marketed as a safe alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, research shows that adolescents who vape are more likely to smoke cigarettes a year later and that addiction is often a consequence. Recent news reports have implicated E-Cigarettes in over 50 cases of severe lung infections in youth and at present, 6 deaths.
We URGE you to have a conversation with your student about the health risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes. Please take a look at these additional resources below. We will continue to provide you with updates throughout the year on this important safety concern. If you have concerns for your cadet, please feel free to contact us.
(Thank you to Bishop O'Dowd High School for much of the information contained in this important email)
Lori Smith, Ph.D.