Vaping Causes Distrust, Disruption, and Distraction in Schools.

Project Bono

It’s no secret that an overwhelming amount of students in high schools and middle schools are caught with vape paraphernalia each day as nicotine use continues to rise among youth.

According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 1 in 35 students at the middle school level have reported to have used an electronic cigarette in the past 30 days. That number increases to 1 in 9 students once they reach the high school level.
When students are asked if they use nicotine, there is a self-incrimination bias. Whether it’s vaping, smoking, chewing tobacco, or something else. The bias may arise as a result of peer pressure or a fear of disciplinary action. Which could prevent them from getting the guidance they need.
In an effort to improve the outlook of students, faculty and legislators across the globe are rightfully cracking down on substances in schools. However, are current disciplinary efforts effective when first-time offenders are betrayed by their school administration, sent straight through the court system, and given a few days off? What effect does this have on their mental health, academic performance, their relationship with their family, and quality of life at home, as well as their motivation over the long term?


By resorting to threats and fear-mongering instead of offering guidance and compassion, schools and local governments build distrust.
Some communities have local ordinances requiring schools to report students suspected of possessing substances and paraphernalia immediately to the police; others, on the other hand, may have their own discipline policies, which may include contact with parents, in-school suspension, correctional education, and bans from school events like homecomings, proms, sporting events, and commencement ceremonies.

When parents and police are contacted for first-time offenders, the student who is suffering from an addiction to nicotine, feels betrayed. Students are often told that school is there to provide help, guidance, and understanding. However, this is not always promised. This can deter students from seeking support out of the fear that they will be looked at negatively by their teachers and parents, reported to the authorities, or become the target of a stop-and-frisk by the school’s security or administration. This can make a student anxiously fall deeper into their addiction and influence sneaky behaviors.


When a first-offender is suspended and reported to the local authorities, their life becomes disrupted.

Suspension from school can put students behind in their academics, and in their eyes, be seen as a reward. Who wouldn’t want a few days off of school? During this time the student can lose a sense of structure and develop poorer habits than before. Parent(s)/guardians may need to take time out of work that they cannot afford to meet with school administrators and local authorities over the course of weeks or months which can cause tension and stress at home.


When students return from suspension, they become distracted.

As students attempt to focus on classwork and homework that they are behind due to their suspension, all they can think about is their approaching court date, fines they must work to pay, and their parents newfound perception of them.

Anxiety from academic stress could even be the reason they fell into an addiction in the first place. Additional stress and anxiety can be a gateway into more nicotine use which might influence a repeat-offense or be a gateway to other substances.


When students make a mistake for the first time, giving them the opportunity to learn from their mistake is essential for building trust within the school community. Students found in possession of vape paraphernalia will usually be required to attend a correctional education course in nearly every case, regardless of whether they are disciplined at school or by the court. This allows them to understand the harms of continued usage and divert them from making the same mistakes in the future while giving them a second chance.

With this in mind, Project Bono has developed a Nicotine Awareness & Prevention course to assist schools and courts in educating students while also providing enrichment for schools and communities by reinvesting a portion of enrollment proceeds back into the communities that assign our program to their students.