Pictured Above: A Riverhead High School student discusses the dangers of vaping at a 2018 forum sponsored by the Riverhead Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Youth

East Hampton and Southampton high schools are confronting the national vaping epidemic by rallying the community at upcoming town hall meetings and classroom workshops. 

The administrations at the two schools have invited nationally recognized clinical experts to work with students, parents and area leaders to protect the minority of local students who are not yet vaping, while helping those who are, and determining how best to fight back.  

The first town hall, “Vaping: Harming Our Kids & Stealing Our Tax Dollars,” will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m., at East Hampton High School, 2 Long Lane in East Hampton.

“Our kids and schools are under siege and tax dollars are being diverted to stop this epidemic while the companies that make vaping products continue to make millions in profits,” says East Hampton High Principal Adam Fine. “We’re taking a hard look at the costs to our schools; costs ultimately paid by taxpayers. This is a crisis that crosses all socio-economic lines, and we estimate that more than half of our students are vaping with some regularity.”

 The second town hall is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m., at Southampton High School, 141 Narrow Lane, Southampton. 

 “We’re witnessing the tragic and horrific effects of vaping on young people, but there’s been little awareness of the institutional costs,” said Southampton High School Principal Dr. Brian Zahn. “Enough is enough. We’ve got to protect our young people and not allow resources dedicated for education to be used to confront a crisis not of our making.”   

Each town hall is open to parents and other members of the community and will feature national experts Dr. Victor DeNoble and Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher. 

Dr. DeNoble worked in the tobacco industry in the 1980s and was among the first clinicians to warn the public about the dangers of vaping. Dr. Halpern-Felsher is a professor at Stanford University, and her research focuses on understanding how young adults make health-related decisions. 

The medical experts will also be meeting with students in the classroom during visits to the two high schools.  

The town hall meetings will also feature student panelists, school administrators and local health officials. Attorneys from the Alabama-based Beasley Allen Law Firm will be available to discuss current litigation against e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers, and recent regulatory efforts to ban some vaping products.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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