Red Deer Public School District

Trustees see unanimous support on tougher youth vaping laws

The Board of Trustees for Red Deer Public Schools continues to lead the way when it comes to seeking tougher vaping laws to protect youth.

At the Alberta School Boards Association Fall Annual General Meeting last week, the Trustees for Red Deer Public School Board put forward a motion urging all levels of government to align restrictions on the consumption, promotion, marketing and sale of vaping products with those on tobacco products.

Recognizing the real issue this is to youth and schools, the motion was unanimously supported by all other school boards in the province. ASBA will now advocate tougher vaping laws to the provincial government.

“There have been real challenges with bylaws and legislation from the municipal, provincial and federal level in keeping up and protecting students,” said Nicole Buchanan, Board Chair for Red Deer Public Schools. “We are encouraged by the unanimous support we received from all other school boards in the province as we confidently move forward in protecting the health and well-being of our students.”

After years of real progress in creating a smoke-free generation, we are slipping back with the real risk of significant numbers of youth being addicted to nicotine and becoming smokers. Previously tobacco users were a “fringe” group of students - now we are seeing students from all grade levels and profiles vaping including athletes, artistic, and academic students.

Last year, our schools saw a significant increase in students using vaping products, and it ranked as the number one reason for student suspensions. Statistics indicate in 2017, nearly 36,000 junior and senior high school students used vaping devices in Alberta. Since then, those numbers have grown.

The use of vaping products has increased so dramatically that Health Canada recently issued a national plea for help in what has become a runaway public health problem. Canada’s Chief Medical Officer is concerned about the seismic shifts in the nicotine market in a short period of time and the alarming number of youth vaping in Canada.

Youth are being targeted with alluring nicotine flavoured devices. The high concentrations of nicotine in vaping products are making young people addicted to these products in a very short time. As a result of the strong addiction to nicotine, students aren’t just vaping outside, they are using these products in bathrooms, hallways and even in classrooms. We are concerned about the health of our students.

Last spring, all high schools in Red Deer united with the City of Red Deer Bylaw Enforcement to curb vape use, and its negative side effects, on students. Students caught vaping at any Red Deer high schools will be issued:

  • 1-day suspension for the first offense.
  • 3-day suspension for the second offense.
  • 5-day suspension for the third offense.

Under the City of Red Deer Bylaw, anyone caught vaping in a public place could face the following fines:

  • A $200.00 fine for the first offense.
  • A $500.00 fine for the second offense.
  • Up to $2,500 fine for the third offense.

The coordinated efforts have been effective. Our schools have seen the positive impact greater awareness and enforcement has had on student vaping.

The Board hopes this resolution, and the actions recommended will see future reductions in vaping among youth.