No current E-Cigarette policy for RBHS
In response to popularity and use of the Electronic Cigarette, Hickman High School has joined thousands of schools across the nation and banned students from smoking E-Cigarettes at school. In addition to HHS, Columbia Public School’s administrators are also questioning whether or not E-Cigarettes violate the drug policies already in place since their health effects are still being researched. Matthew Ross, assistant principal at HHS, said the policy on illegal drugs and tobacco encompasses E-Cigarettes because nicotine is considered a drug.
“Due to the fact that it is still undetermined what health risks are associated with the use of E-Cigarettes and [because they are] possible distractions to the learning environment,” Ross said. “It was determined that they do not have a place at HHS.”
RBHS has yet to come to a decision regarding the use of E-Cigarettes on school property. RBHS Principal Dr. Jennifer Mast said she personally feels Electronic Cigarettes will not be allowed at RBHS, even though administrators haven’t addressed the subject yet.
“We don’t have a policy on them,” Mast said. “Regardless, there are some well known substances within many varieties of E-Cigarettes generally accepted to be harmful.
-RBHS Principal Jennifer Mast
This is an emerging dialogue both nationally and locally. I know the adults at RBHS would be extremely interested in the students’ views on this subject, as well.”
Electronic Cigarettes are not FDA approved for aiding smoking cessation. They are advertised, however, as safer alternatives to cigarettes though their effects haven’t been well studied as of now.
“It is also possible that their use in nonsmokers could lead to nicotine addiction and have a negative effect on the heart,” Dwight Look, MD, said. “Common side effects of E-Cigarettes are mouth and throat irritation and dry cough,” Look said. “Lung irritation by the carrier of the nicotine has [also] been reported.”
CPS administrators have been working to make sure students are healthy and Mast said if E-Cigarettes may have dangerous effects then it’s not responsible for RBHS to allow use of them on the campus. The issue of social norms also comes into play. Mast said smoking in public places, especially schools, is socially unacceptable.
“Use of E-Cigarettes would be a distraction to our learning community we are not yet ready for,” Mast said. “In using the word ‘yet,’ I acknowledge that as we know more about E-Cigarettes and their implications, it is possible there will come a day when they become socially accepted and their use in schools wouldn’t be that big of a deal.”
Mast compares the use of E-Cigarettes to cell phone usage in that many teachers would have never thought cell phones would become a part of the learning environment, but things have changed. Katie Neu, a senior at RBHS, smokes E-Cigarettes in hopes that she’ll quit smoking regular cigarettes. She said she smokes at school, but never inside the school, and doesn’t feel as if E-Cigarettes should be banned.
“I think they shouldn’t [ban E-Cigarettes] because it’s not harming anyone.” Neu said. “If [administrators] were to do anything about E-Cigarettes they [should] encourage them because they’re way better for you than smoking.”
Neu said she saw an advertisement for Electronic Cigarettes on television and asked around to people she knew who used them ,but didn’t do any further reaching as far as learning possible health effects.
“Ever since I started smoking, my dad started smoking again,” Neu said. “He bums off of me, but I don’t want him to get addicted again.”
An issue with using Electronic Cigarettes is the unknown effects that may come along with the usage of the machines.
“Again,” Look said, “these devices have just not been very well studied.”
By Renata Williams