Cambridge-Isanti High School uses education to fight vaping concerns

Cambridge-Isanti High School launched a pilot program to address health concerns over vaping.

As students head back to class, the country is dealing with a vaping epidemic that's heavily affecting teens.

Cambridge-Isanti High School is trying to get ahead of the issue through a pilot program.

“I get seriously scared for our students because we hear advertising that says it’s safe,” Cambridge-Isanti High School Principal Steve Gibbs said. “We don’t know what the long-term effects of these devices are. What we can see is what the results are, and kids are ending up in the hospital.”

The Minnesota Department of Health is now tracking severe lung injuries associated with vaping - up to 22 confirmed or probable and 13 more under review.

“Obviously, things are not working as numbers keep rising and rising. We’ve got to find a way to bring them down,” said Kevin Gross, a resource officer at Cambridge-Isanti High School.

This is Gross’s first year in his new role.

“There’s so much information to try to feed these kids and educate them so they can learn and realize what kind of choices they’re making,” he said.

Monday, the district sent out a letter to parents outlining the new anti-vaping pilot program. Anyone caught vaping or with a vaping device has a mandatory education session to learn the real dangers of vaping.

If they skip it, only then will they be referred to juvenile court.

“I have a badge, I have law enforcement rights in Minnesota, but I don’t want to have to use that here. I want to build relationships with these students,” he said.

“We don’t want to be just punitive in nature because we don’t believe that punitive changes everything. We believe that education is the answer to everything,” Gibbs said.