While we don’t want to labor the point (after all, this is why we all vape in the first place), but when you consider the punishment doled out to students caught with cigarettes and those caught with e-cigarettes, keep in mind that scientists and experts generally estimate that e-cigarettes are about 100 times safer than combusted cigarettes (if not more).
Getting caught with cigarettes gets you a detention, a letter home and possibly an educational class on tobacco and its risks.
Getting caught with an e-cigarette gets you a week-long suspension, a drug test and “possession of drug paraphernalia” forever etched onto your school record.
So – forgetting about other valid objections for now – put yourself in the shoes of a teen who smokes and occasionally vapes, living in one of the unfortunate areas where these rules are in force. You’re going to school, and you’re going to need some nicotine if you’re going to get through the day without getting all agitated and withdrawal-y. Do you take your cigarettes or your e-cigarette? Assuming you don’t want to get in trouble, there’s a good chance you’ll stick with the smokes. That way, on the off-chance you get caught, it’s a minor inconvenience instead of a potentially future-destroying event. This policy pushes nicotine-addicted teens to smoke instead of vape, the opposite of what anybody concerned about teens’ health should want, given a choice between the two.
Granted, most schools treat e-cigarettes in the same way as cigarettes, and even where these rules are in force, every infraction is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but it’s clearly a disproportionate move, to say the least.
According to Sarah D’Annolfo, dean of students at the Taft School in Connecticut, “Our goal is to reduce access and discourage use on campus … It definitely sparks conversation within the school community about e-cigarette use and the possible dangers and the possible benefits.”
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