B.C. Interior high school comes up with unique vape buy-back program

At a high school in Revelstoke, B.C., students can turn in their vapes in exchange for credit at the school cafeteria. Megan Turcato explains.

A high school in B.C.’s Interior has embarked on a unique program to combat teen vaping: buying vape pens from students to help them kick the habit.

To date, more than 45 vapes have been collected by Revelstoke Secondary School.

“What we realized very quickly with vaping is that because of the marketing effects of the different vape flavors, it became very, very easy for students to become addicted and now they are,” said school principal Greg Kenyon.

“It’s not a disciplinary issue; we need to support students.”

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Around four years ago, the school started seeing an uptick in teens vaping.

“So what we did is work with Interior Health and other community agencies to try and support students to stop smoking and vaping,” said Kenyon.

“But things were getting desperate.”

That’s where the idea for a vape buy-back program was born.

The program sees students turn in their vapes in exchange for credit at the school cafeteria.

“Now there is substantially less vapes in general in our school community,” said Grade 12 student Caleb McIntyre. “The temptation is definitely way lower, like all my buddies are quitting.”

The program is also appealing to teens who are looking to quit and don’t want to see their old vapes fall into the hands of younger students.

Grade 11 student Natasha Fair was the first to hand over her vapes as part of the buy-back program. She started vaping when she was quitting tobacco and doesn’t want to see other kids pick up vaping.

“I see a lot of kids just doing it for fun or doing it to be cool or fit in with certain types of people,” said Fair.

“It really takes a toll on you and I don’t think a lot of kids know that, because you can’t really feel it until you quit and you experience what it’s like to not be consuming nicotine.”

Kenyon admits some students who have sold back vapes haven’t kicked the habit, but he sees value in the way the program has helped staff talk to students about vaping.

“They know we care,” said Kenyon.

“Has it been totally successful? No. Is it making an impact? Yes.”

Kenyon said a survey about a year ago showed 10-12 per cent of the school’s students were daily smokers or vapers — a number he believes has since decreased.

“It is actually maybe the scariest part we are seeing,… they started out as people who were vaping and a lot of them are switching to cigarettes now because they are addicted to nicotine,” Kenyon said.

The school is continuing to offer its vape buy-back program as part of a multi-pronged approach to discouraging vape use.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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