North Van school addresses vaping problem by locking washrooms
A high school in North Vancouver, B.C. is taking some extraordinary steps to curb the number of students meeting up during class time to vape.
The number of teenagers using e-cigarette in washrooms, locker rooms and sometimes even classrooms has become a "very serious issue" at Seycove Secondary School, according to a bulletin that was distributed to parents on Friday.
"Students are arranging to meet in groups by texting each other during class time," the bulletin said. "There is increased hallway traffic during classes, and a generally 'casual' response from students when (they) are asked to return to class."
To curtail the vaping problem, staff said they are locking all student washrooms except one near the gymnasium and a gender-neutral washroom near the office.
Signs are being posted at closed washrooms alerting students they have been locked over "inappropriate use" and directing them to the locations that are still open.
Locker rooms are also being locked all day except at the beginning and end of classes, according to the bulletin, and supervision aides have been instructed to record the students they see in the halls during class time.
"I don't think it's fair, honestly," one student told CTV News. "You can pick out the people that do vape and just take the vape away or something."
E-cigarettes simulate smoking by vapourizing fluid, which can vary in nicotine content and sometimes contains no nicotine at all. While the risks associated with the habit are still being studied, Health Canada currently believes vaping is harmful, but less harmful than regular cigarettes.
The agency is also unequivocally against nicotine use by teenagers.
"There is … clear evidence that nicotine exposure during adolescence adversely affects cognitive function and development," the agency said in a May 2018 statement.
"Nicotine is a potent and powerfully addictive substance, particularly for youth. Vaping products containing nicotine could potentially lead to addiction, the subsequent use of tobacco products, and the renormalization of smoking behaviours."
Not all parents are fans of Seycove's response to the vaping problem. One woman told CTV News that limiting the number of available washrooms was an unacceptable response.
The North Vancouver School District said the vaping issue is a health and safety concern, and promised the measures are strictly temporary.
"Hopefully this can just bring attention to the issue, it can be resolved quickly and then the school can begin to operate as it usually does," spokesperson Deneka Michaud said.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson