NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA) — The Trump Administration is preparing to ban thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes.
The Food and Drug Administration will develop guidelines to remove all e-cigarette flavors, except tobacco, from the market.
Arkansans are among those impacted by what health officials call an epidemic in underage vaping.
This comes just as several vaping illnesses have been confirmed in Arkansas.
The Arkansas Department of Health reports two confirmed cases, two probable cases, and four cases that are under review involving illnesses in connection with vaping.
Federal health officials say preliminary data shows more than one in four high school students reported vaping this year, compared with one in five students in 2018.
“It’s a huge, huge problem in our middle school and our high school. Kids are doing it even inside the classroom, they’re doing it in the bathrooms. They’re not trying to hide it at all,” says Renee Malouf, Prairie Grove mom and nurse.
She says Northwest Arkansas is no exception.
“Parents need to educate themselves and know what these vape cartridges look like,” Malouf adds.
On Monday, Arkansas legislators held a committee meeting to call for an interim study on the health effects of vaping.
“I can attest to the fact that vaping is of epidemic proportions in the schools. This isn’t just Bentonville schools, this is all schools,” says Debbie Jones, Superintendent of Bentonville schools.
Jones called the marketing for e-cigarettes and other vaping devices strategic towards youth.
She says, “in our school district alone we have seen a 420% increase since 2016.”
Jones pointed to a recent vaping incident on August 30 in a Bentonville school.
“A female shared it [vape] with three other females, and the first one to take a hit off of this was unresponsive,” Jones said.
This prompted nurses to administer two shots of Narcan to the student, who was then transported to the hospital.
The school district is testing the pen to see if it was laced with a some other drug.
While the federal government works to ban thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes, Malouf says parents have more of an important role to play.
“We’re going to have to do a lot of education within our schools and within our homes with our kids, in order for us as a society to get on top of that,” Malouf said.
Local school districts have different policies when it comes to disciplinary actions for vaping.
Bentonville School District
- Minimum penalty for possession, transfer, use of tobacco or tobacco products including e-cigarettes/vaping: 3-day suspension
- Maximum penalty: Expulsion for 1 calendar year
Fayetteville School District
- First infraction: One (1) to three (3) days of ISS
- Second infraction: Three (3) to five (5) days of ISS
- Third infraction: Five (5) to ten (10) days of ISS
- Fourth infraction: Up to ten (10) days Out of School Suspension (not to be used for truancy)
Rogers School District
- A first violation of the tobacco/tobacco products/vaping/vaping products regulations will result in assignment to five days of detention, or one day of in-school suspension, notification of parent/guardian, and referral to a counselor.
- A second violation of these regulations will result in assignment to in-school suspension for three days, a parent/guardian conference, and referral to a counselor for a tobacco education program.
- A third violation of these regulations will result in suspension from school for five days, a parent/guardian conference, and referral to a counselor for a tobacco education program.
- A fourth violation of these regulations and any succeeding violations (at any time in grades 6-12) will result in at least a 5-day suspension from school and may result in a recommendation for expulsion from school.
Springdale School District
- Penalties for violation of this policy include in-school suspension, at a minimum, and expulsion from school as a maximum.