Families Learn About Vape Court

This article originally appeared in The Sand Mountain Reporter.

Tuesday evening Albertville Middle School held an open forum for parents and students to discuss vaping and watch a presentation on the consequences of vaping.

Albertville District Court Judge Jay Mastin began the presentation by going over the new policy set in place for when students are caught vaping.

“As far as our vaping court is concerned, it’s a brand new court that we have established this year to help out the school system with one extra level of support and one extra level of accountability for our students and to their parents by bringing them to court to a different setting than you would normally see in school,” Mastin said to the crowd.

“If a student is caught with a vape at school or any kind of extra-curricular activity or even on the bus they will receive a ticket from their local SRO that works at their school. Then, they will then be ordered to come to court.”

Mastin says court starts early and punishments continue in severity for repeat offenders.

“We have Vape Court every Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. Students must come with a parent or guardian. They will be given options to plead guilty or not guilty and then they will be sentenced. Community service, fines and online vape education courses are some of the things they will be ordered to do,” he continued. “We want our kids to understand what they are doing. Understand what they are putting in their bodies and know this isn’t a healthy option. We are going to try every level of education we can.”

Mastin said pulling statistics from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, 40% of high school students vape regularly.

“It’s shocking really,” Mastin said. “In 2019, 8.5 million people were admitted vapers. As of 2021, that number grew to 55 million. Global vaping sales reached $15.7 billion in 2018 and are expected to reach $40 billion in 2023. This is not just once a week, once a month. This epidemic isn’t something that can be helped easily.”

Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims was also a guest speaker at the event.

“I appreciate everyone coming out tonight,” Sims said. “The main point I want to make is that this comes down to decision making. A lot of the program Mike (Reese) has to go over is about making bad choices versus good choices. That’s what we try to get our students to understand. We want our kids to understand that one bad decision could cost you your life. Please take this back to your friends and to your kids. It takes a community effort to get it to stop. When I got elected, I said I was going to bring more programs to the school and I plan to keep doing all I can to help our kids all I can.”

Mike Reese, who has helped in Marshall and Jackson Counties with spreading smoking and drug awareness, showed a video presentation about the consequences of vaping.

“Alabama is No. 3 in the country for the number of people that smoke, or use vapes,” Reese said. “A lot of the reasons that kids use vapes is that it all starts at home. When you vape, you get addicted. Addiction is addiction. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. That’s why we want to stop it before it even starts. I am for anything and everything we can try to help the kids understand that once you get started it is like a freight train.

“We aren’t trying to scare kids, trying to educate them.”

Reese said one Juul puff is equivalent to a pack of cigarettes.

“Statistics say that 5.5% of people vape daily. Now, you might not think that is much, but once they are addicted, they can’t stop without help.”

At the end of the presentation, Reese had different vaping apparatuses to show parents what to look for.

Albertville District Court Judge Jay Mastin began the presentation by going over the new policy set in place for when students are caught vaping.