CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A Clay County school club, Students Working Against Tobacco, has turned its attention toward vaping as health experts say the number of teens turning to e-cigarettes has reached epidemic levels.
The club, better known as SWAT, has chapters in 10 Clay County schools working to prevent young people from smoking cigarettes and now vaping as well.
During a club event at Middleburg High School Thursday, more than 200 students took the pledge to not smoke and not vape.
Middleburg High School's principal said students told him they couldn't even use the bathroom without seeing vaping prompting the school to address the problem and crack down.
Joy Moritz with QuitDoc Foundation works closely with the SWAT clubs of Clay County. She says one of the main goals is to make students aware that while some believe vaping is a safe alternative to smoking, that's a misconception.
"Here in Clay County, our numbers are rising with the vape use. It's around 28% with middle and high schoolers," Moritz said. "We have kids that say, 'it's just a water vapor'. And I let them know that once the chemical is heated so high, it's an aerosol and you're inhaling this into your lungs."
While Moritz said the SWAT clubs are doing great work in Clay County schools, she shared a message with parents.
"They need to realize what is actually in the products. And they need to educate themselves, so they can educate their kids," Moritz said.
Moritz also warned that parents need to remember that it is easier to hide a vape product than cigarettes since they don't leave behind a bad smell like with cigarettes
The devices are small and easy to conceal. Some are about the size of a thumb drive.
All of SWAT's efforts are provided on their website.