SPRINGFIELD, Mo – Governor Mike Parson announced Tuesday morning that he has signed an executive order to warn the youth about the dangers of vaping.
Parson says this is a statewide effort to educate and discourage.
“Today, I signed an executive order directing the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Director of Public Safety to develop a statewide campaign within 30 days of this order to educate, warn and discourage vaping among Missouri’s youth.”
He went on to say that he is not ordering a ban on vapes at this time but hopes the FDA and legislators make regulation a priority.
Fighting the Vaping Epidemic in the Ozarks
The principal of Ozark High School, Jeremy Brownfield, says he’s happy Parson is helping fight against youth vaping.
“I think early on what we saw with vapes were students weren’t really educated on what the dangers were. they were sold as a way to quit smoking so there was a misconception that they’re really safe,” says Brownfield.
With Springfield Public Schools, they have a partnership with the Greene County Health Department to raise awareness already about vaping.
“We’re currently providing that for sixth grade up through our high school health classes. The vape education provides information for the students to inform them on everything they need to know related to vaping,” says Brad Brummel, the Coordinator of Health and Education for Springfield Public Schools.
“It’s relatively easy to get ahold of,” says Brownfield.
Brownfield says that when they have caught kids vaping at school, even the parents were not educated on what the devices were.
“I know it’s a problem in general in the whole area. Unfortunately, that draw to the flavored vapes and you know everything they don’t know about it I think makes it more attractive to them,” says Jami Jansen, a biomedical teacher at Kickapoo High School.
Jansen also is the team leader of a group called Hosa. Hosa is an international student organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education (HSE) Division of ACTE. HOSA’s two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people, according to the Hosa website.
With Hosa, Jansen had three students last year lead a local campaign to educate their peers in a couple of the Springfield middle schools about vaping and the dangers that come from it. Jansen says the three students even used personal relationships to get the message across.
“They had a connection to this, they all three admitted that so many of the students they knew experienced vaping at least once. They wanted to look toward the future and try to prevent this from getting quite as bad.”
SPS says they have even started teaching fifth graders the dangers of vaping because in a year they will be in the middle school environment.
Brownfield says vaping likely won’t go away any time soon but he hopes the campaign won’t need to become a massive anti-drug campaign like D.A.R.E.
“I don’t think it’s a problem that’s going away so I could see this continuing to grow for sure. Anytime the governor is an advocate for our students it’s going to be a positive on their behalf,” he says.
“But I think right now, I think the whole concept of vaping was to try to keep people from smoking, and I’m not sure that’s what it’s really done. I’m not sure we haven’t created more problems,” says Parson.