OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — More East Tennessee schools are addressing the dangers for students who vape. On Thursday night, Oak Ridge schools invited an expert to talk to parents, faculty and students about what vaping is and why it's so bad for students.
Two high school students were also on hand to discuss what they've seen within the school system. School officials are hoping the students' perspective had a more powerful impact.
Recent numbers show that between 2016 and 2018, the rate of vaping more than doubled between 6th through 12th graders in Anderson County.
Parents and faculty found that hard to believe, but students say it's something they encounter everyday.
For Oak Ridge senior Sophia Jodoin, vaping is off the table.
"I do not do it. I have never done it. I probably never will do it in my life," she said.
The reason why not to is personal -- she said she has a connection to substance abuse in her family. But regardless, vaping is something she comes in contact with all the time.
"People I see every day, people in my classes, friends, not friends."
Within the walls of Anderson County Schools, she said vaping is seen as the "cool thing to do." She said too many kids are doing without knowing the consequences.
"We need to sit up and pay attention and know this is something happening here in our county," said Stacey Pratt with Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention.
She said the issue has been addressed before, but the education needs to continue.
"It's not some national thing happening somewhere else... it's happening here with our children," she said.
A crowd of all ages learned not only the basics of vaping, how to spot it and how to quit, but what really happens in the halls at Thursday's meeting.
Jodoin hopes the vaping trend will eventually fade away with students, but until then is trying to ensure parents and peers hear her message before something tragic happens in the halls.
The state Department of Health just released new numbers. Four more people got sick from vaping in the state this week bringing the number to 68 total.
So far two people have died in Tennessee, 42 have died across the country.