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Associated Press file photo

The Vigo County School Corp. and Hamilton Center are launching a new vaping education program in all Vigo County middle and high schools. Students caught vaping will attend a 30 to 40 minute class once a week for four weeks. The approach both educates students about the dangers of vaping and limits disruption to their education, according to the school district.

The Vigo County School Corp. and Hamilton Center are launching a new vaping education program in all Vigo County middle and high schools.

Recent local surveys show that vaping is pervasive in Vigo County, with 24.4 percent of 12th graders reporting that they vaped in the past month, according to a VCSC news release.

In the 2018-19 school year, 306 tobacco or vaping violations were reported at Vigo County School Corporation schools.

Last year, first-time offenders of the tobacco/vaping policy received a three-day in-school suspension. Starting this year, first-time offenders will have the opportunity to complete “Catch My Breath,” an evidence-based education program offered by Hamilton Center.

Students will attend a 30-40 minute class once a week for four weeks. This approach both educates students about the dangers of vaping and limits disruption to their education, according to the school district. 

“We’re in the education business,” said Tom Balitewicz, director of student services at VCSC. “When one in four Vigo County 12th- graders says that they’ve vaped in the last month, that tells me that we need to lead with education and not just treat vaping as a disciplinary issue.” 

Hamilton Center has had a longstanding partnership with VCSC.

“We know there is a need to educate the students in the community about the effects of e-cigarettes and vaping’, said Emily Owens, the center's executive director of clinical services.

“We appreciate the Corporation allowing us to take the time to provide the programming to the students that are referred”. 

When a student is caught vaping, the school dean will secure verbal permission from the guardian to start “Catch My Breath.”

The school corporation and Hamilton Center are holding a news conference regarding the new program this morning. This story will be updated. 

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