One of the biggest conversations about e-cigarettes currently is the debate regarding minors having access to nicotine delivery devices. Currently, the legal age to use e-cigarettes is the same as tobacco cigarettes (18 years old) – and like tobacco cigarettes, younger teens are still finding ways to access the devices.
This problem concerns parents and educators alike. In fact, some schools are taking e-cigarette disciple to the next level by treating e-cigarettes the same way they treat drug paraphilia. The rationale behind this idea is that vaporizers can also be used to use marijuana.
Currently four states (North Carolina, New Jersey, Washington and Connecticut) are categorizing e-cigarettes in the same grouping as bongs and drug pipes. In these four states, the penalties for students who get caught with an e-cigarette on campus include extended suspension, drug testing and having drug possession on their permanent school record.
In schools where e-cigarettes are simply part of their anti-tobacco policy, students caught with one are likely to find themselves in detention with a letter sent home and a required class on tobacco.
Through surveys, it is believed that approximately 41,000 students (this number includes teens under the legal age) use e-cigarettes—a number that has surpassed tobacco cigarettes.
American Vaping Association president Gregory Conley has come to the defense of students. While he agrees that minors should not have access to e-cigarettes, he also feels that students who do gain access to the devices should not be punished as harshly as they currently are in North Carolina, New Jersey, Washington and Connecticut.
Currently the National Association of State Boards of Education has no official policy with regards to e-cigarettes. Nevertheless, Kristen Amundson, the Executive Director, feels that e-cigarettes should be labeled as a tobacco product—at least within the confines of a school.
However, Amundson believes the decision is ultimately up to individual school administrators, saying: “That’s how we end up not having to hear a case of a kindergartner who brought a little paring knife to school suddenly being recommended for expulsion for bringing a weapon to school.”
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