Q and A with Kris Costopoulos

Camilla Breen, Pulse co-editor

How have you seen vaping increase at LT?

“There has been a 263% increase, measured by consequences of students that were caught. Now ‘caught’ is probably just a drop in the ocean compared to everything that’s going on. It’s heavier at SC, and there’s been a substantial increase.”

“And these are just the ones that have been caught, just the vaping with tobacco; not counting the vaping with something else. There were 53 [infractions] of those last year. Almost all of our marijuana infractions are in the form of a vape, there’s not so much pot anymore.”


Are the infractions from the above table just first offenses? What happens after the first offense?

“For some kids, there has been multiple [infractions]. For the second offense, the ticket price goes up to $100 and the consequence then goes from a Saturday detention to an in school suspension. Then they lose their exemption and they start feeling the pressure in a different way from the pressure of the first offense.”


Does the consequence differ for vaping with nicotine vs. vaping with THC/CBD?

“If you’re vaping with nicotine, it’s considered a tobacco violation. If you’re vaping with THC, it’s considered a drug violation. With a tobacco violation, you will get a Saturday detention, and you’ll get a ticket from the township for $35 (for the first violation). After 10 days, the fines go up to $60.”

“If it was a drug violation, they would also get a ticket from LaGrange, and I want to say that’s about $50-$100 depending upon what it is. You would get an in school and out of school suspension and we would lobby for the student to go get an assessment; we always do that. It’s up to them if they do it or not, but it’s a way to reduce the number of days your out of school suspension will be.”


How do the consequences differ for students who are above/under 18 years old? (legal smoking age)

“It’s legal for them [18 year olds] to smoke, but it is still illegal on school grounds. As a student, even if you’re 18, you can’t be in possession of one. So the one difference would be that 18 year olds would not get the ticket from LaGrange. They would get the school consequence for having it, but because they are of legal age to own it, the police can’t ticket them. They get in trouble because they’re just possessing it, not smoking it.”


There has been a new addition to the PE policy video. Can you explain the ‘no vaping’ addition?

“We had them add it because we wanted to stress that you really can’t do it in school. No one is allowed to smoke on school grounds. It’s against state law; it doesn’t matter if it’s you or your teachers. LT is a no smoking zone. And of course for students, the fact that it’s illegal and unhealthy for you is another reason to remind you. Smoking affects your developing brain and we want you to go through life with all the tools in your toolbox. We don’t want you to have destroyed some of that along the way.”


Why do you think it’s become so popular among students?

“I really don’t know. We (society) did such a good job in conveying that cigarette smoking was not good for you. That smoking cigarettes was not cool. If you bought cigarettes now, your friends would shame you. But with these [Juuls], no one thinks twice about doing it. The fact that it’s become a popular thing now is so counteractive to how society has been. They still smell, though, and they’re still bad for you. You’re getting the same nicotine, but what they aren’t getting is the tar. I had a parent tell me once that her son vaped ‘for the flavor of water it was,’ and I had to tell her ‘no ma’am your son is smoking it for the nicotine. If he just wanted flavor, he could chew gum.’”


How can students help to combat vaping in school?

“You guys are two thousand sets of eyes. We have, what, 10 security guards? We don’t see everything but you do. We count on that and we need that. You outnumber us. So we need you to take ownership of the school. We’re all in this place together and we have to look out for each other. You shouldn’t have to breathe it, smell like it, or see it happening. If you let us know through the speak up line that your friend is in trouble, we will follow up. The speak-up line is rarely wrong. Because your friends usually know what’s going on way before your parents do. There’s only ever been one year where there were lots of prank calls into it. Other than that time, every other one has been honest. That’s what we count on. If the speak up line tells us who’s vaping and where, we call them down and do our best. Use the speak up line, tell a student, tell an SA in the hall, stop by here, email us, however. Just let us know. We can really put a stop together if we work together.”