Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

April 29, 2014

THEIR VIEW: Schools, include e-cigs in policies

(Continued)

The school board association is urging schools to catch up with the new technology in order to keep students from lighting up e-cigarettes between classes, association President David Emmert said.

One concern of health officials and schools is that more teens are using e-cigarettes instead of tobacco-filled cigarettes.

If policies are not detailed enough, when a student is caught smoking, the first check is to see what is actually being smoked. If the student was taking drags from an e-cigarette, an electronic cigarette that puts no smoke into the air and leaves no ashes on the ground, he or she is told to put it out and get to class. Parents are called.

A police officer can write a ticket, but depending on school rules, the student might not get in trouble at school.

All school districts — like our local ones have done — need to address this gap and not leave it as a strictly police matter. The penalties for e-cigarettes should be the same as for tobacco products.

Most school districts already have policies banning tobacco or intoxicants. But those are too broad, as nobody really knows with certainty what’s inside someone’s e-cigarette. As Emmert put it: “It’s not like a vegetable soup that has a can that tells you what’s in (the soup).”

Students need to know in advance that they can be punished, suspended or expelled for using e-cigarettes, just as they would for tobacco use. School districts that don’t have policies concerning e-cigarettes should add them soon so that when student handbooks are distributed this summer, students will know what the policies and penalties are.

But until school boards add them, teachers and administrators are essentially trying to enforce rules that don’t exist.

— The Republic, Columbus

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