Students talk vaping at law enforcement anti-drug summit

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Vaping is being put in the same category as drugs and alcohol at an anti-drug summit for students in Wichita. 

Law enforcement agencies from across Sedgwick County came together Thursday for a program similar to "D.A.R.E" but for older students in Wichita's first "Teen Drug Summit" at Central Community Church.

Hundreds of students at the event heard messages from law enforcement and a motivational speaker about the consequences of drug and alcohol use and to hear anti-vaping messages.

"They talked about how it's not just water vapor," said sixth grader Riley. "It has a lot more to go into it."

The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office said the summit is including vaping in its anti-drug program.

"We're saying 'drugs' overall, because we don't want to limit it to just one type of drug," said Substance Abuse Coordinator with the Sheriff's Office, Wendy Hummell. "We have a very big meth problem in Sedgwick County. But, we also know that kids are vaping marijuana." Hummell said the big message Thursday was "making good choices."

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office and Wichita Public Schools are teaming up for the event after getting the idea from schools in St. Louis, Missouri. One teacher who spoke with KAKE News said vaping is a major problem at her middle school, and she hopes events like this will help reach students in a different way.

"Students listen to students more than they're gonna listen to adults," said Goddard Middle School teacher Mindy Barr. "So, they've been taking notes, and they're going to be the ones that really are the voice of where we go next with this."

The Goddard school district is suing e-cigarette companies like Juul over accusations of targeting children with their advertising.

"My generation, it was all about saying no to smoking and things like that," Barr said. "This is, I believe, is an even bigger issue than we even faced."

The organizers say they hope students take a message back to their peers.

"I want everyone to learn that you do have the choice," Riley said. "And period."

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