Student groups place anti-vaping magnets on Alpine School District buses
Student groups OUTRAGE! and Island Teens Advocacy Team came together Wednesday to place anti-vaping magnets on Alpine School District buses.
The Utah Department of Health reported that in 2019, 15.5% of Utah County students in grades 8, 10, and 12 had experimented with e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, with 7.6% frequently using e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. According to students in OUTRAGE and Island Teen Advocacy Team, they have seen this e-cigarette use most frequently on school buses.
According to Gideon Cline, the president of ITAT at Cedar Valley High School, he saw kids vaping when he rode the bus in middle school. He hopes that learning the facts about vaping will encourage students to stop.
“People don’t make such a big deal out of it, but when you figure out all the facts about how bad it is, then that’s when you can kind of see,” Cline said.
Placing the magnets, which read, “No vaping or tobacco use on this bus in accordance with the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act waytoquit.org,” in school buses was a student-led initiative. Members of OUTRAGE! and ITAT worked together with the Utah State Health Department to create the signs, which they hope will help to curb tobacco usage on the bus.
“I hope it inspires students to stop vaping in general, and especially on school buses, and to also make it a more comfortable place for kids who are going to school,” said Coleman Jarvis, a youth leader with OUTRAGE! and student at Spingville High School.
Members of the student groups said that they have experienced other students vaping on the bus first-hand and that the tobacco use makes them uncomfortable. They are unable to distance themselves from it in the confined space.
“These kids said that before on the buses there was a lot of vaping. Kids would be in the back of the buses acting like little bullies blowing smoke at them, and the bus driver of course couldn’t do anything,” said Joyce Ah You, the executive director of the Queen Center nonprofit. “So they thought, ‘why not put up signs and at least deter them a little bit?'”
According to Sarah Simons, an OUTRAGE! Coordinator, the plan to place anti-vaping magnets on buses has been about three years in the making.
“It’s been really exciting to see all of the school districts really come together and see the importance of it, and then to see the youth get really excited and to see that their voices are being heard,” Simons said. “They see it [vaping] every day, they see it on the bus, they see it in the classroom, they see it in the restrooms, and it’s been really [causing distress] for them, so they are always trying to come up with different things they can do to curb this epidemic that’s going on.”
With the placement of anti-vaping magnets in Alpine County school buses, OUTRAGE! and ITAT have successfully placed anti-tobacco signage in school buses in all three Utah County school districts.
“I hope that more people will feel comfortable being able to go on buses, and be more knowledgeable about vaping and how it’s targeting teens,” said Siona Sauvao, a member of ITAT and student at Westlake High School.
ITAT is made up of Pacific Islander students from across Utah Valley. The group focuses on providing culturally meaningful resources, tobacco prevention, advocacy, and education. OUTRAGE! Is an advocacy and prevention youth group for Utah County youth ages 12-18 that began in 2007, and focuses on drug and alcohol abuse prevention.