The Lake Superior School District is set to make a formal resolution of support for a Tobacco 21 policy in Lake County.
Amanda Cassady of the American Lung Association and Sarah Kemp, a nurse practitioner at Lake View Clinic, visited the board meeting Tuesday, Oct. 8, to present on the vaping epidemic and promote a policy to raise the legal age for tobacco sales to age 21.
"Two Harbors is not immune to the growth of vaping product use across the state that we’re seeing and across the country," Cassady said. "We have 18-year-olds who are in high school and can legally purchase products. They are doing so and selling it to underage students. We know that 18-year-olds are the primary source for underage students."
Two Harbors High School Principal Jay Belcastro supported this statement by sharing a story about catching a sixth-grader with a vape device this week.
"We brought the student to the office for in school suspension this afternoon and I said, 'You’ve served your penalty. You’re out of trouble, but just out of curiosity, where do you get it?' and it’s just as you’ve said: 'There’s an 18-year-old I can go and place my order,'" Belcastro said.
"People say it doesn't happen here, but we know it’s a problem."
Cassady has been working with the Two Harbors City Council to draft a resolution for a Tobacco 21 policy in the city.
RELATED STORY: Vaping educators visit Two Harbors High School
"They’ve stated a desire to hear from the school administration and board in support bringing forth this policy," Cassady said. "So we’re asking the school board to sign a letter of support and send that to the city stating support. The longer we wait, the more addicted our kids are becoming. It’s definitely better sooner than later."
Board members discussed the issue, asked more follow-up questions and expressed support.
"The best anti-smoker is an ex-smoker," board member Tom Burns said. "I know personally how horribly addictive nicotine can be, how hard it is to stop and I can definitely get support this law change."
The board ultimately voted to informally support the policy and to draft an official resolution to be added to the agenda for the Nov. 12 meeting at William Kelley High School.