Efforts by schools and the city to deter vaping among youth have reportedly been a success.
Earlier this year, new rules were put in place at Red Deer high schools, along with increased enforcement by city bylaw officers, to try and curb vaping among students.
Bruce Buruma, community relations director for Red Deer Public Schools, said since September, 17 suspensions were handed out to students — 10 at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, two at Hunting Hills High School and five at the district’s middle schools.
“We think it’s been effective. It’s a pronounced change,” Buruma said.
“Last year, it was a big issue. Last year, (school staff) confiscated many, many, many vaping devices from kids.”
Students caught vaping on school property face a one-day suspension for the first offence, a three-day suspension for the second incident, and a five-day suspension for the third offence.
Anyone caught vaping in a public place could be fined $200 by city bylaw officers for the first offence, $500 for the second offence, and up to $2,500 for the third offence.
Last year, schools in the city saw a significant increase in students using vaping products.
In 2017, nearly 36,000 junior and senior high school students used vaping devices in Alberta. Vaping by youth has since grown after years of progress in creating a smoke-free generation.
Previously, tobacco users were a fringe group of students, but vaping has attracted all types of students, including those involved in sports, the arts and academics, from all grade levels.
Last week, a motion put forward by Red Deer Public Schools to toughen youth vaping laws received unanimous support from the Alberta School Boards Association. The body will now advocate for stricter provincial rules.