Falmouth Schools Seeking to Reduce Vaping, E-Cigarette Use

FALMOUTH – Concern in the Falmouth community over the growing number of teens who are vaping or using electronic cigarette devices has resulted in a response from the school department.

Interim Director of Student Services for Falmouth schools Joan Woodward said the district is working with several community agencies to address the problem of youth vaping which can lead to nicotine addiction.

Agencies working with the schools include the Falmouth Police Department, the Cape Cod Regional Tobacco Control Program, Gosnold on Cape Cod, Cape Cod Healthcare, the Barnstable County Human Services Regional Substance Use Council, the Falmouth Human Services Department, Seven Hills Foundation’s Southeast Tobacco-Free Community Partnership, the Community Health Center of Cape Cod, the Falmouth Board of Health and Mashpee Public Schools.

“We are currently seeing an increase in vaping and e-cigarette usage in our schools, especially at our high school,” Woodward said.

Woodward said the increase has led to a nicotine addiction for many of the town’s youth.

The U.S. Surgeon General has issued an advisory describing that the use of e-cigarettes by youth has reached epidemic levels,” Woodward said.

In 2018, one out of every five high school students and one in 20 middle school students used e-cigarettes. In total, more than 3.6 million people in the United states used the devices last year.

Woodward said school nurses in the area are reporting students as youth as 5th grade are coming into their offices with nicotine sicknesses.

“We have also noticed that the tobacco industry, along with other marketing and sales companies, are really targeting our youth and are providing access to nicotine related products faster than we can keep up with now,” Woodward said.

The interim director of physical education, health and wellness for Falmouth Public Schools, Julie Williams-Tinkham, is working to develop curriculum for students in the elementary, middle and high school grades.

“The director is also working on elements of the “CATCH My Breath” curriculum into some of the lessons at Falmouth High School,” Woodward said.

The program seeks to educate students to resist media influences and peer pressure when it comes to trying e-cigarettes and vaping.

The last of three public forums on the issue will be held April 1 at Falmouth High School at 6:30 p.m.

Dr. Jeffrey Spillane, the chairman of the Cape Cod Hospital multidisciplinary thoracic oncology clinic, will discuss the potential health risks of vaping and e-cigarettes.

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