NCDA moving to zap vaping in Westmoreland
ORAIN RUDDOCK, a substance abuse officer with the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) in Westmoreland, says his organisation has launched an intervention programme in the parish to snuff out widespread vaping among students.
“The vaping scenario in schools is that kids are using it to the point where some schools have seized over 50 vaping devices since January. Only last week, a principal called to inform me that they had seized seven in less than a full school day, and the number was rising rapidly,” said Ruddock.
According to a 2017 Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey, 15 per cent of Jamaicans aged 15 and older are using tobacco products, while an unspecified number are using electronic cigarettes. At present, 11.1 per cent of boys and 10.9 per cent of girls who attend local schools are said to be smoking cigarettes, while 11 per cent are said to be using electronic cigarettes.
“What I would have found out while going around making various presentations is that some teachers simply do not know what to look for, even some of the deans of discipline don’t know what is going on with these students,” said Ruddock.
According to Ruddock, he heard that students were vaping close to their dean of discipline, and if other students did not point it out, they would not know that something wrong was taking place.
Ruddock said the anti-vaping initiative currently being undertaken is to raise awareness of the potential negative effects of using the devices and to teach youngsters that they can be trendy without resorting to drugs. The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness of the negative effects of drug usage on one’s body, mind, and emotions.
The instructors, who will spearhead the anti-vaping campaign, will be required to participate in a training and sensitisation session where they will be shown the different types of vaping instruments, for identification purposes, which is key to having successful preventative programmes in schools.
For the pilot project, Savanna-la-Mar Primary, Sir Clifford Campbell Primary and Grange Hill High have been selected.
“The reasons for these schools being chosen are based largely on either being located within a space occupied by a zone of special operations (ZOSO) or receiving a sizeable number of students who reside in ZOSO communities,” said Ruddock. “We are targeting different layers of the school system from the administrators, through to the support systems of classroom teachers, deans of discipline, guidance counsellors and ancillary workers.”
Ruddock says all schools across the parish are being targeted for the intervention programme because the aim is to bring total awareness to the problem so that it can be properly addressed.
“No school is exempt. You may suppose that students with greater financial resources are using vaping more frequently than other students who are less fortunate because it costs money to maintain a habit, but that might not be the case,” said Ruddock. “The conversation is that there is a lot of vaping happening in the classrooms, in the restrooms, at different school events, and on the road.
“Students have been caught stealing vaping instruments from a well-known proprietor in Savanna-la-Mar,” added Ruddock.