Smoking is smoking, no matter the medium. School districts need to check the wording of policies to make certain that all forms are covered. In particular, they need to make sure electronic cigarettes are defined and included with other forms of smoking.
Thankfully, the Bartholomew Consolidated and Flat RockHawcreek school corporations have language in their school policies that address this issue.
Bartholomew Consolidated’s policy states: “‘Use of tobacco’ shall mean all uses of tobacco, including a cigar, cigarette, pipe, snuff or any other matter or substance that contains tobacco, as well as electronic, ‘vapor’ or other substitute forms of cigarettes.”
Flat Rock-Hawcreek’s policy states: “Tobacco includes, but is not limited to cigarettes, cigars, snuff, smoking tobacco, smokeless tobacco, nicotine, nicotine-delivering devices, chemicals or devices that produce the same flavor or physical effect of nicotine substances; and any other tobacco or nicotine innovations.”
More schools need to have language that addresses e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are relatively new, and many schools haven’t updated student handbooks or policies banning students from using them, even though state law says e-cigarettes are illegal for anyone younger than 18.
E-cigarettes are electronic, can look like regular cigarettes and are filled with liquid that usually contains nicotine. The e-cigarette converts the liquid into vapor, meaning there’s no smoke and no ash. The devices cost between $50 and $90, and packs of liquid for the devices cost about $10.
While principals can tell students to stop using e-cigarettes, they can’t punish or suspend students who get caught with them if school policies are not explicit. If a student younger than 18 is using an e-cigarette, police can be called to write a ticket. Some school districts also have policies that state students can be suspended or expelled if they violate state law, Indiana School Board Association staff attorney Lisa Tanselle said.