WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Vaping has quickly become a dangerous practice amongst teens. Yearly, school districts have been working to combat the problem, and now, the Wilson County School District (WCSD) is taking a different approach.

“I think sixth grade, which is horrible, now that I’m thinking about it,” said Reaghan Ard. It was a tough question to look back on, thinking about the first time vaping was introduced to her. Ard even told News 2, that some people she knows were introduced to vape pens as early as elementary school.

Ard is currently a Senior within the WCSD. She explained the temptation to start vaping can be found every day she goes to school.

“Hallways, outside of the school, especially the parking lot, and the bathrooms. It’s very frequent, and then also going out and about, I’ll see my peers smoking, or vaping,” said Ard.

It’s something Ard says she has made a commitment not to do, even joining the Drug-Free WilCo Youth Prevention Coalition.

“I think people look at it as this is newer technology or a better version of cigarettes, but in reality, they still contain nicotine, and in addition to that, there are also harmful metals that come from the vape pen,” explained Ard.

A recent increase in the number of teens vaping or being caught with vaping products

“What it does is give students the opportunity to have a self-paced program on that first offense, that way they can learn more about the dangers of not only the devices but learning more about the substances going into these devices,” said Bart Barker with WCSD.

The district is now partnering with the organization Drug-Free WilCo, in hopes of stopping the problem before it gets out of hand. The goal is to sit down with students who are first-time vape device offenders and teach them the dangers of vaping.

Barker called the situation, “problematic, and I think that’s because of the added trend.”

He shared videos and pictures of vape pens and e-cigarette devices that have been confiscated over the past few years. Currently, the district works with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, to provide Student Resource Officers within schools.

According to the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department, during the 2021-2022 school year, resource officers confiscated 405 vape pens. That number is almost double what they collected the previous school year.

“It’s tough to attach this in every angle, but internally at the heart of our schools, we do feel like there is something that we can offer our students and give them some education about these devices, which as we’ve learned in some instances can be very very dangerous,” said Barker.

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The school is hoping to provide an update on its partnership with Drug-Free WilCo by the end of the semester. The hope is to continue providing the program to students for years to come.