TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County officials are urging teenagers to “put down the pen.”

The Hillsborough School District and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office launched the #PutDownThePen campaign Thursday. The goal is to combat teen vaping.

During a news conference, officials released a PSA that will be sent to parents and students warning of the dangers of vaping.

Florida has seen a 58 percent increase in vaping among teens in the past couple of years. Tobacco use is up as well.

District officials released these numbers on tobacco incidents:

  • In 2017-2018, we had 390 incidents involving tobacco  
  • In 2016-2017, we had 178 incidents involving tobacco
  • In 2015-2016, there were 253 incidents involving tobacco

Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins says they want to change those numbers and will hold students accountable.

“It is important to help them understand consequences and make great choices. We want to lead them to great choices because ultimately there’s some free will here,”  Eakins said.

A lot of young people are putting THC in vape pens. Hillsborough’s sheriff says catching them will land them in big trouble.

“That’s the unfortunate part. You make a poor decision when it comes to being in possession of a felony substance, you’re going to jail for a felony and we all know how life-altering that is,”  Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

If a student is caught vaping in school without THC, it’s just a matter of school punishment, like in-school suspension. THC added makes it a felony.