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    July 2018

    Vaping and E-Cigarettes in the Classroom: What Does Your Policy Say?

    Vaping, the inhaling and exhaling of vapor from a device such as an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), continues among middle and high school students. In fact, many students are even vaping during class, a trend facilitated by vape pens created to look like common devices such as USB drives. In addition to nicotine-based products, some students may vape marijuana. While most students don’t perceive vaping as harmful, science says otherwise. Moreover, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is stepping up efforts to keep vaping devices out of the hands of children. Your school may be required under the law to prevent use and should consider these steps for curbing vaping. 

    • Educate students, parents, and teachers. Because many vaping “juices” (the liquid that is vaporized and inhaled) only contain flavoring and not nicotine, many parents and students see the practice as harmless. A study, however, noted that the vapor from e-cigarettes often contains the same toxic metals, such as lead, found in traditional cigarettes.
      • Consider holding educational sessions about the dangers of vaping for students and parents. Train teachers on vaping dangers, how to spot vaping in school (especially in the classroom), and provide a curriculum for educating students.
    • Review and update your policy on tobacco and drug use. Some schools take a hard line on tobacco and drug use, while others seek to provide student support. Review your policy’s intent to ensure the language aligns with your institution’s culture and practices. For example, some schools that discover students using nicotine or THC (the active chemical in marijuana) steer students to smoking cessation and drug education programs rather than simple rather than simple discipline.
      • Consider whether your policy classifies vaping devices as drug paraphernalia. For example, the Taft School policy (see page 16) classifies all “vaporizers” as drug paraphernalia and imposes discipline.
      • When reviewing your policy, consider the model campus tobacco policies offered by the American Lung Association and the state of Minnesota that address vaping and e-cigarettes.
    • Take physical steps to discourage vaping. Look for ways beyond your policy to reduce the practice, including banning USB drives, installing vaping detectors in bathrooms, and limiting bathroom access.

    Vaping may be here to stay, but your efforts can curb usage, keep students focused in class, and make parents aware of the dangers.


    Minnesota Department of Health: School E-Cigarette Toolkit

    American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations on Tobacco and E-Cigarettes

    U.S. Surgeon General Fact Page on E-Cigarettes

    By Heather Salko, senior risk management counsel


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