GCHD seeks partnership with schools in battle against e-cigs

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 10/2/19

Gasconade County health officials will be reaching out to administrators of the R-1 and R-2 school districts to form a partnership to educate students about the dangers of electronic cigarettes and …

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GCHD seeks partnership with schools in battle against e-cigs

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Gasconade County health officials will be reaching out to administrators of the R-1 and R-2 school districts to form a partnership to educate students about the dangers of electronic cigarettes and vaping.

The decision to make the move came during Monday morning’s session of the Gasconade County Department of Health’s Board of Trustees. Department Administrator Greg Lara told the board the state health agency is working to identify the link between electronic cigarettes and vaping to an increase in respiratory ailments.

“They're still doing a lot of research to find out what’s causing the illness,” Lara said. “The last I heard, there were 13 total fatalities for lung issues” involving those who used the e-cigarettes or vaping devices.

The growth in popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping among young people in high schools and middle schools is especially troubling to public health officials.

Trustee Stan Hall suggested the county health agency reach out to school administrators to begin a discussion about educating students to the dangers of the devices.

Board Chairman Sharen Speckhals endorsed such a move. “Let them know they have some resources” available and to “set up a partnership.”

She suggested Lara arrange a meeting with the superintendents of the R-1 and R-2 districts.

The trustees’ discussion of the nicotine-delivering electronic devices also touched on possible local regulations — in the absence of state law — including the possible ban of the sale of the devices. Whether state lawmakers will take up regulation of the sale of the devices in the session that begins in January is unclear.

“This is going to be a hot topic going forward in the next few years,” Lara said.

With only three of its five members on hand for the regular monthly session, the board also heard that Molly Maddox, the department’s food service inspector, has obtained a $2,800 grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that will cover the expense of attending a regional training session that covers federal health food codes. That training will take place in North Dakota.

Also, the county agency is seeing a growth in the number of clients using credit and debit cards to pay for services. The option of using credit and debit cards is new. Administrative Assistant Darla Schutt told the board she expects the use of the cards to increase as more clients of the Health Department become aware of the new payment option. The board’s next session is set for 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at the Hermann office at 300 Schiller Street.

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