Electronic Cigarettes are not considered tobacco, so how do you handle students who bring them on campus?

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One thing is certain, nothing stays the same for long. Recently we have all had to deal with the issue of legalized medical marijuana and allowing school employees to use their so called prescription during the school day.  Since tobacco is not allowed on campus and marijuana is not technically tobacco, the issue became very complicated, but it was already a seemingly ridiculous issue to begin with.  Now with the advent of E-cigarettes, we find ourselves in a whole new battle over schools’ anti-tobacco policies based on the same premise that e-juice is not tobacco.

Technically speaking, E-Cigarettes do not use tobacco, but rather a fluid or e-juice which contains nicotine.  The e-juice is electronically heated to produce a vapor which the user then inhales to deliver nicotine to their lungs.  And this e-juice is what employees and students are trying to bolster their “on-campus use” arguments with.  Let’s start with the basics.  E-Cigarettes are governed by the California Health & Safety Code Section 119405 which prevents their sale to persons under the age of 18.  The spirit of the law is what is important here and that is to prevent the use of nicotine by minors.  And most K12 schools are filled with minors.

So before you find yourself arguing with parents over their student’s possession of an e-cig, there is a simple solution to preventing the use and possession of these devices on your school campus – your Board Policies.  School districts would be wise to update their tobacco policies to prohibit e-cigs, vaporizers and other nicotine or drug delivery systems.

 

California Health & Safety Code Section 119405

(a) To the extent not preempted by federal law, including, but not limited to, the regulation of electronic cigarettes by the United States Food and Drug Administration, it shall be unlawful for a person to sell or otherwise furnish an electronic cigarette, as defined in subdivision (b), to a person under 18 years of age.

(b) “Electronic cigarette” means a device that can provide an inhalable dose of nicotine by delivering a vaporized solution.

(c) A violation of this section shall be an infraction punishable by a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars ($200) for the first violation, by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500) for the second violation, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) for a third or subsequent violation.

(d) Nothing in this section nor any other law shall be construed to invalidate an existing ordinance of, or prohibit the adoption of an ordinance by, a city or county that regulates the distribution of electronic cigarettes in a manner that is more restrictive than this section, to the extent that the ordinance is not otherwise prohibited by federal law.

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