WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- There's a renewed push to keep Wake County schoolchildren safe. On Monday, Wake County commissioners voted to ban smoke and vape shops from opening within 1,000 feet of schools in unincorporated parts of the county.
"Having that temptation, having access to products that can ultimately be bad for their health is simply just not something that's necessary within a thousand feet of a school," said Wake County commissioner Matt Calabria.
Calabria said he hopes the move motivates towns and cities to follow suit. There are five municipalities in Wake County that have imposed harsher regulations on tobacco and vape stores: Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Rolesville, and Zebulon.
Virginia Johnson has spent the last five years promoting health education in the county as the Substance Use Director for the Poe Center for Health Education. She's also the mother of a recent high school graduate.
"Talking to our child, talking to my son on what are the harmful effects, how do we make healthy decisions? How does decisions impact our future and even like roleplaying, how, how do we say no to your friends and keep them as friends," Johnson said.
The numbers back up their concerns.
According to the FDA, youth vaping has surged in North Carolina -- with usage increasing from 1.7% of high school students in 2011 to more than 20% in 2019. Johnson says it was actually youth advocates at the nonprofit who have been some of the biggest proponents for action.
"Our youth started advocating for, 'Hey, no, we would like to be able to go to school without having this right around us.' That's something our youth have felt very strongly about, and we have supported them in that decision," Johnson said.