GREENFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — One central Indiana school district is trying a different method to crack down on students who are vaping.
It’s handing out real tickets in an effort to stop what health officials call an epidemic for teens. Students who are caught vaping at Greenfield-Central High School are slapped with a $130 ticket.
Health officials have called vaping one of the biggest threats to teen health in the country.
Jason Cary, the principal at Greenfield-Central, said Friday, “It certainly worries me, and I hate it for our students because I’ve got 2 boys at home, but I’ve got 1,500 kids here. These are my kids.”
For about the last year and a half, students younger than 18 caught vaping on school property immediately get a $130 citation from Greenfield police.
“They’re not cheap,” Officer Josh Mullins with the Greenfield Police Department said Friday. “When the kids get them, it’s real.”
In the last year and a half, Officer Josh Mullins said he has written from 10-15 tickets to students at the school. He regularly patrols the halls to catch students vaping.
“They can be hidden anywhere, in your pockets, your shoes, your socks.” Mullins said.
“Even though they might not understand it now, I hope when they’re older, they understand and they get why we’re doing it,” Cary said. “We’re not doing it to punish kids. We’re not doing it to take away money from families. We’re really trying to prevent them from going down a road that could get them in trouble.”
Laura Stewart, a parent of a Greenfield-Central student, said of the ticketing, “I think that that’s a wonderful idea. That may stop them before they really get into it and get hooked on it. That’s a statement letting them know it’s not good.”
Thursday, the Indiana health department announced the state’s fifth vaping death. The Centers for Disease Control report 52 deaths nationwide and said Indiana has one of the highest rates of vaping hospitalization in the country.
“I think what we’re doing is working for some kids,” Cary said.
“Honestly, I think it’s working great. It’s effective. No one wants to pay that ticket,” said Anne Marie DeKeyser, a student at Greenfield-Central.
Caleb Mundel, a 17-year-old senior at the school, said he doesn’t vape, but he has friends who have received one of the $130 tickets.
“Most parents aren’t going to pay that for their kids that get in trouble, so most kids don’t have a job. They have to pick up a job or start working to pay the ticket,” Mundel said.
The district sees it as something proactive the school can do.
“I know it’s not going to work for everybody. I’m not naive enough to think that it’s helping everybody, but I do think there’s a large percentage of our students that are better because of what we’re doing.” Cary explained.
According to Cary, the other three Hancock County public high schools — Mt. Vernon, Eastern Hancock and Southern Hancock — give out tickets.
Cary said he hopes other school districts across central Indiana adopt this same ticket program.