SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Springfield Public Schools is trying to make it easier for teens to stop smoking and vaping.
“If they feel like they have a problem or want a way out, then they have it,” said Courtney Martin, the district’s director of student services.
Vape safe drop boxes have been installed in every middle and high school throughout the Springfield Public Schools district, encouraging students to discard vape and tobacco products anonymously.
”We want kids to feel safe,” Martin said. “We want kids to have the ability to turn in the vape and not get in trouble.”
The program started just before winter break.
The district said in a news release, “The Vape Safe Drop Box initiative was led by the Greene County Tobacco and Vape Prevention Coalition, a local group of organizations committed to preventing tobacco use in the greater Springfield area. The coalition then created the child-focused Springfield Area Vape Education (SAVE) program, which developed the idea of the Safe Boxes.”
”It’s an important partnership to meet the students where they are,” said Julie Viele with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.
Viele said the boxes are strategically placed in each school.
”Locations where students felt safe and had a secure place, and to let them know that this is anonymous and this is a tool for them to utilize these and to get them to quit vaping or to quit smoking,” Viele explained.
Martin said some boxes are located near the nurse’s office, while others are in hallways where students can utilize them in passing. There is also a number on the box that students can text for support during their process of cutting out smoking and vaping.
”A friendly person will come on and talk to them about ‘hey what’s going on?’ this and that, ‘how can we help you ?’ or ‘how can we address you to somebody who can help you?” Martin said.
So far, one vape has been dropped off.
”Which to me is a success, we gave a student an opportunity to get rid of a vape and try to get help, so they’re well worth it in my opinion,” Martin said.
The SAVE program has created a website with resources for schools, parents and students.
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