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New program underway in Amherst County to combat youth vaping

Students caught vaping will take one-day program at suspension center

AMHERST COUNTY, Va. – “We’re very excited,” Amherst County Public Schools student health supervisor Marie Petrone said about the INDEPTH youth vaping program the school district is using.

Petrone is excited the school district is partnering with the Virginia Department of Health to try to put an end to vaping.

“We have the alternative suspension center to try to do something different with our kids to try to prevent discipline issues. To do this with smoking is just another avenue to create a better school environment,” said Petrone.

When the American Lung Association created the program in September, the Central Virginia Health District reached out to the school system and offered to help implement it.

It began last month.

Middle and high school students caught vaping or caught with vaping products have to take the one-day program at the alternative suspension center.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of vape shops popping up in our county. We know what’s in our community will eventually be in our schools,” Petrone said.

Two students were going through the program Tuesday.

Central Virginia Health District representatives Candice Mitchell and Kim Foster walk them through worksheets and statistics about the health risks of vaping.

“They’re learning how addictive it is. Also, we go over the cost, what that looks like in a year. That’s been an eye-opener for some of them as well," Foster said.

The program could also be an eye-opener for the health district.

“Our hopes for rolling it out is to work with the schools to get it started, to provide some evaluation, to give us some information about what is really going on with youth vaping,” Foster explained.

Bedford, Appomatox and Lynchburg are next on the health district’s list of school systems in which to get the program started.