Peace officer presence at Red Deer schools reduces student vaping, says district

‘It’s about elevating public awareness’

No students have been ticketed, so far, for vaping in Red Deer schoolyards.

And that’s great news, according to Bruce Buruma, community relations director for Red Deer Public Schools.

Since September, City of Red Deer peace officers have been patrolling school grounds and parking lots and talking to teenagers — and this has reduced incidents of student vaping, said Buruma.

The presence of peace officers is making a noticeable difference, with far fewer students using e-cigarettes around local high schools, he added.

“We really appreciate that they’re here,” he said of the officers. “Their presence has been felt and it’s effective…

“This is about elevating the level of public awareness,” and not slapping students with punitive fines, Buruma added.

Vaping has been linked to several deaths across North America and many cases of respiratory illness.

Buruma said Red Deer’s two school divisions worked together last year to seek ways of deterring the harmful practice, “because what we want, in the end, are healthy kids.”

Representatives from the city’s public and Catholic high schools met with city bylaw officials and determined the municipal regulations for no-smoking or vaping in public spaces can be enforced on school grounds.

Students and parents were informed when school started that fines that could be laid if students were caught vaping.

Buruma said his district has since received positive comments from people who hadn’t known their children were using e-cigarettes until the new policy helped start these conversations.

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