Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools trustees heard about the school district’s approach to dealing with vaping from Don Balcombe, assistant superintendent, at their Nov. 6 education committee meeting. (Black Press file)

Discipline for vaping like ‘whack-a-mole,’ says Nanaimo school district exec

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools assistant superintendent says focus is on prevention

Discipline and enforcement are not effective approaches to prevent student vaping at Nanaimo-Ladysmith schools, according to a district executive.

Tobacco product usage, including e-cigarettes, is banned on all Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools facilities, and in a presentation Nov. 6, Don Balcombe, assistant superintendent, told education committee members that it is easier to catch students smoking traditional cigarettes. Catching students vaping is like a whack-a-mole game and a losing cause, he said.

“If we say, ‘We’re going to catch you if you vape,’ kids [hide the devices] … you can’t see it because it’s an aerosol,” said Balcombe. “It doesn’t rise in a puff of smoke. It smells like watermelon, lemon, like their chewing gum, which also smells like watermelon and lemon. So you can’t enforce it from a ‘do it and we’ll catch you and we’ll punish you.’ It just is not possible. They can conceal it in seconds.”

RELATED: BCSTA asks for governmental help to end student vaping

RELATED: Health official warns Nanaimo school district about vaping

The district will continue enforcing its policy, according to Balcombe, but prevention and harm reduction is a better approach for the district to deal with the matter. On the prevention side, the district is working to get up-to-date information sharing for students, parents and staff regarding vaping and is trying to dispel the myth that vaping is harmless, Balcombe said.

“We’re trying to get resources down at the Grade 4, 5, 6 level to start that conversation around, ‘it’s not healthy’ and the preventative measures to do that and make kids build some resiliency and awareness for parents,” said Balcombe.

In addition, Balcombe said the school district communications department has put together a poster for schools warning of vaping.

“Instead of the soft-sell approach, we’re going a little bit more on the hard sell like they did with tobacc0, you know, tobacco causes cancer,” said Balcombe. “We’re saying vaping is not harmless and so we’re outlining some of the heavy metals and chemicals that get into them. The lung issues they have and also the fact that a lot of companies are being bought up or being invested in by big tobacco.”

In terms of harm reduction, in-service training for counsellors and principals to learn about how to help addicted teens reduce and quit vaping will also be developed, Balcombe said.

The school board previously approved a motion directing Charlene McKay, board chairperson, to pen a letter to the provincial government to address vaping.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch in south Nanaimo

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by police after City of Nanaimo crew found it

RDN Transit to see rollout of 15 new HandyDart buses

Buses will have temporary protective barriers installed to prevent spread of COVID-19

RDN says water in French Creek still potable despite levels of iron, manganese

Strategy to improve water quality being established

United Way distributes $120,000 in federal funding to seniors in need during pandemic

Salvation Army, Eden Gardens, hospice society among groups granted money

Man who used to live in Nanaimo sought by RCMP on the mainland

Ajia Richardson unlawfully at large after failing to return to psychiatric hospital in Coquitlam

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Beefs & Bouquets, May 27

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

Nanaimo senior who was excessively speeding says her vehicle shouldn’t have been impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Most Read