High school students in Salem can now get paid to give up vaping. The city’s vape buyback program started Monday and officials hope it will pay off.
The city is offering students $50 gift cards to Target, Market Basket or another local business of their choosing in exchange for vape pens and e-cigarette devices. Students who attend Salem High School, Salem Academy Charter School, New Liberty Innovation School and Salem Prep High School are eligible to participate.
To enroll, students have to turn in their devices to Salem High School’s Teen Health Center. They must also complete at least four vaping cessation sessions at the center in order to receive a gift card.
“You want to engage in a behavior change. You don’t just want to give them a gift card up front, you want them to have skin in the game,” Maggie Brennan, the CEO of North Shore Community Health said.
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The initiative is being launched in partnership with North Shore Community Health and North Shore Medical Center.
“I see a lot of kids who struggle with a lot of respiratory issues, from asthma to more coughing to getting sick in general,” Dr. Michele Casoli-Reardon said. “This gives them an incentive.”
Salem’s Youth Commission was also an integral part of launching the program. The student members will help get the word out to their peers.
“I’m going to tell them it’s not hard. The sessions are only 45 minutes and they can really help,” Luis Matos de los Santos, a junior at Salem High School said.
The one year pilot program is currently only available to high school students in Salem, but could expand to more if successful.
“I hope we’re in a position where we need more funding because it’s so popular.” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said. “There’s no way to find out unless we try it.”