New Vape Safe Drop Boxes at every middle, high school encourage SPS students to discard vapes
In every SPS middle and high school, there’s a new box: a Vape Safe Drop Box.
Located tucked away and strategically placed, the Vape Safe Drop Box was installed by SPS leaders to encourage students to safely and securely discard vape and tobacco products anonymously.
For all students passing, there’s to text for support in ceasing tobacco products.
“The purpose of the drop box is to promote free and anonymous text-based cessations services, while also creating a safe place for a student, staff or community member to turn in a vape device to be properly disposed of,” said Brad Brummel, SPS coordinator of physical education, health and engagement activities. “This creates a safer learning environment in our schools and provides safe opportunities for students to make health-enhancing behaviors.”
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.
When SAVE leaders requested the installation of Vape Safe Drop Boxes, SPS leaders were eager to support the boxes’ goal. It complimented the tobacco cessation efforts already underway at SPS, says Courtney Martin, director of student services.
“The numbers nationally and regional trends indicated that there was an issue at the high and middle school level with vaping,” said Martin. “We knew that we needed to do something to give kids an out and an opportunity not just to get rid of the vapes, but also to provide support to address the stress, anxiety or mental health issues that lead students to turn to tobacco.”
In each building, school police officers and counselors have been equipped to help students quit vaping with resources and support, not punishment. In 2019, SPS implemented the Aspire Program at two SPS schools. In the program, students who were found with tobacco or a vape were given an option: complete In School Suspension, or watch a 30-minute video developed by MD Anderson Hospital that detailed the harmful effects of tobacco usage.
Overwhelmingly, students chose the resources to quit instead of the consequence, said Martin.
“The boxes, the resources at the school, these are intended to give kids the ability to discard vapes and then seek out somebody at the school to talk to, if they have an issue,” said Martin. “It’s a first step. And if we get one vape turned in, one student who quits, it’s a success.”
To continue supporting healthy choices for SPS students, SPS and SAVE are working together to potentially provide one-on-one counseling services specifically for students who are choosing to cease tobacco usage.
As of January 2021, one vape has been turned in and safely discarded at a SPS middle school. For more information about Springfield Area Vape Education and the Greene County Tobacco & Vape Prevention Coalition, visit the SAVE website.