MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Manatee County schools will soon kick off a new program that will address students highest growing addiction — nicotine. 

Statistics from Drug-Free Manatee indicate over 18 percent of underage teens in the county vape or use e-cigarettes daily. 

“It’s so sad to see,” says Ally Bergmann, Associate Director of Drug-Free Manatee. 

Bergmann says she’s seen teens have signs of upper respiratory issues and face addiction to nicotine even before graduating from high school.

“That can be attributed directly to the opioid crisis in our county,” Bergmann says. 

With school back in session, several organizations are trying to find new ways to educate students on the harmful effects of vaping. 

“We want to see the numbers go down,” says George Schrier, Manatee Schools Alternative Programs/Drop-Out Prevention and Truancy Student Services Director.  

To combat this, Schrier says they developed a personalized curriculum focused on the effects of teen vaping, a curriculum which will be unique to Manatee County Schools. 

“I felt like we could build a better curriculum ourselves, and that’s what we are doing,” says Schrier.  

The curriculum is set to roll out in just a few weeks. The district claims it avoids the use of scare tactics and just give students the facts.

“When we promote health and wellness, we reduce substance use, period, across the board,” says Bergmann.

To learn more about the program, visit the Manatee County Schools website