SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Public Schools is teaming up with health professionals, school leaders and its own students to hold a community vaping prevention symposium in late November.
According to several Spokane Public Schools student, many of their friends don't see a problem with vaping, and said calling it dangerous is an overreaction.
North Central High School senior Taylor Cain said she's worried because she doesn't think many of them know what's in it.
"They see the people on the news who have passed away from it and are being affected," Cain said. "They're just like, 'oh, it won't happen to me.' That's just the mindset a lot of teenagers have."
SPS and other community partners are trying to change that.
Dr. Bob Lutz with the Spokane Regional Health District wants to teach people about the dangers that come with vaping and work on coming up with a solution to what he describes as a scourge.
Dr. Lutz said last year, about two-thirds of people using e-cigarettes had no idea they had nicotine in them.
"People are vaping not knowing that they are turning to an addictive substance, and that addiction is hooking young people," Lutz said.
According to school staff, they're seeing students deal with the consequences.
North Central High School Student Assistant Professional Jill Royston thinks many students don't know what they're getting into when they start vaping.
"Kids... I think they might experiment over summer," Royston said. "Then when they come back to school, they think they can just give up vaping and realize by 10 a.m., around third period, they need another hit."
Northeast Washington Educational Service District 101 has some sobering numbers on vaping use in students.
Their data comes from surveys of thousands of students in grades six through 12 about their vaping use over the last thirty days.
ESD 101 says they've seen vaping use in 6th graders double between 2016 and 2018, and use in 8th graders has almost doubled in that same time period.
Spokane Public Schools representatives said they know the problem will take more than a night to fix, and it's time for a serious conversation about how vaping will affect students for the rest of their lives.
"We should be educating the younger population, and that is a community-wide issue," Royston said. "The schools can't do it all by themselves.
The vaping prevention symposium will be held at North Central High School on November 21.
The event will begin at 5 p.m. and include a resource fair, speakers and other informational sessions. It is open to the public.