MANCHESTER — City school board members are expected to vote Monday night to approve a new program in Manchester schools designed to prevent teen vaping.
Catholic Medical Center, Breathe NH and Making It Happen are working together to introduce the program into Manchester schools warning youth about the dangers of vaping, as use of vaping products is on the rise among young people.
Tonight’s meeting of the Board of School Committee gets underway at 7 p.m. in the aldermanic chambers at City Hall.
Representatives from Catholic Medical Center (CMC), Breathe NH and Makin’ It Happen recently went before the Committee on Curriculum and Instruction to introduce a program in city schools, as vaping among young people is increasing.
A school board committee voted unanimously to allow a program designed to curb vaping to go forward. The program would entail young people with the group Makin’ It Happen, along with CMC and the non-profit Breathe New Hampshire, to speak to their peers and younger students about the dangers of vaping.
Organizers say they hope to kick off the effort with a presentation for parents sometime this month.
“We’re hoping to have an event on the West Side, and invite parents from the entire district,” said Mary Forsythe-Taber, executive director of Makin’ It Happen. “The high school students are looking to engage and encourage the middle school students not to get involved in vaping, that’s the peer-to-peer piece of it.”
Forsythe-Taber said organizers hope for a good showing at the parent meeting, with “good questions and good feedback.” They will then take that data and decide whether to roll it out into other areas of the city.
“Vaping is happening all over the city and I feel kinda urgently about it in that I don’t want to see this just take place on the West Side,” said Ward 4 school board member Leslie Want. “I’d like to see it district wide.”
“The initial parent event, we want to invite the whole district,” said said Tim Soucy, CMC community health and mission director. “Then with the feedback from this event, have a small pilot program on the West Side to gather feedback. Then ultimately our goal would be to roll it out citywide.”
Soucy said the hope would be for a pilot program in West Side schools this fall, then citywide in the winter or spring.
“This program specifically is targeted at preventing youth vaping and helping them to quit,” said Allyssa Thompson, director of programs at Breathe New Hampshire. “We also focus on the marketing tactics the vaping industry uses in appealing to youth.”
National data shows vaping is a huge issue among teens, with the rate of teens using electronic cigarettes more than doubling in two years — the largest and quickest increase in the popularity of any substance since tracking began 45 years ago.
The data was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, as national health officials try to determine why at least 1,080 people have been hospitalized and 19 have died after using vaping products.
An estimated 25% of high school seniors vaped nicotine in the past month this year, up from 11% just two years ago, according to the 2019 Monitoring the Future Survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Use grew from 8.2% to 20.2% for sophomores and 3.5% to 9% for eighth-graders.