Teens in Kansas are using e-cigarettes at alarming levels, the latest data from the Food and Drug Administration shows. This data shows numbers for high school students increased by 78 percent nationwide from 2017 to 2018. The increase over that same period for middle schoolers is 48 percent.
Now, school districts in Kansas are trying to catch up to reverse that increase.
Bryon Clearly is among local parents of middle school or high-school students aware and concerned about the popularity of e-cigarettes. While Clearly doesn't know all of the facts about e-cigarettes when it comes to potential long-term health issues, he wants to protect his daughter before she reaches high school.
"When you have that many people doing it, you have peer pressure," he says. "You know, they do it and your friend does it over here and then all of a sudden, 'why aren't you doing it? You should, it's not harmful.'"
Kansas Board of Education Chair Kathy Busch says the language of the current policies in school districts regarding vaping needs to change.
"Right now their policies would be tobacco free Well, that doesn't necessarily say nicotine free, so you've got policies that need to be strengthened in order to help local schools deal with the situation, because these are nicotine-deliver devices and they're not tobacco-delivery devices."
Busch says the matter is so urgent, the state wants change before students head back to school next year.
"If we don't get ahead of this and get information into the students' hands, we think the prevalence of vaping devices is only going to be higher," she says.