CASSVILLE, Mo. -- As the vaping epidemic rages nationwide, one Ozarks school is taking steps to help local teens quit or reduce the potentially dangerous habit.
Leaders at Cassville High School are considering a change in the district's policy about vaping. However, that change goes hand-in-hand with more education about the health risks of vaping.
"In 2016, in the fall, we had six total vaping issues of instances then in our fall semester, we were up to 40," Assistant Principal Nathan Carter said.
Carter says the spike is concerning not only for students' overall health, but also their education.
"If they are safe and they are healthy, they're allowed to be in class and learning, which is what we are here for," Carter said.
That's why the school is taking more action against the trend, starting with a policy change proposal to the student handbook.
"Would make a first offense five days of ISS. Then, seconds offense, three out, three in. Then, third, five out, five in," Carter said.
However, the change certainly isn't only about upping the punishment for vaping, but also about increasing education about the dangers, even having kids make their own posters about the risks.
"My job as law enforcement is I want to make sure everybody is safe and sound," School Resource Officer Zack Thompson said.
Officer Thompson helps monitor students' behaviors.
"They obviously think it's a cool thing to do and unfortunately, they don't understand the risks to it," Officer Thompson said.
So, he'll also incorporate vaping education through the D.A.R.E program for younger students.
"To make sure they make the healthy and smart decisions," Officer Thompson said.
Some students agree that it's good to act now before it's too late.
"Everybody says they're just going to do it one time. Then, they try it once and they're addicted. Then, they're buying their own or getting someone else to buy it for them," Senior Kel Wilson said. "They just get addicted to it and can't stop."
Currently, the vaping policy change to the handbook is just a proposal to the school board, but they're expected to consider the change, and possibly vote on it during their meeting this month.