Nobody want to see children vaping, certainly not in schools, but it is a sad fact of life that some will experiment with tobacco – as all of the generations before them have done. So, while nobody would condone vaping in class (not even as a harm reduction measure), where is the sense in criminalising teens?
Last week, we wrote about a concerted effort to get bad news stories about vaping and schools into mainstream American news coverage. In one of the weirdest things we covered, a child was discovered vaping in the school toilet and immediately reported to the police! “Sandburg Student Caught Vaping in Locker Room,” cried the headline in a way that would never happen if a British child were caught smoking at school.
It transpires this perverted method of running an educational establishment isn’t confined to one institution.
The Bernards and Bridgewater-Raritan school districts in New Jersey already have a zero-tolerance approach to vaping, and were joined by the schools in the Hillsborough on January 2nd. The new school policy states: “Possession of vaping and electronic cigarettes by students will be seen as suspicion of being under the influence of drugs".
School principal Karen Bingert said: “In recent months the prevalence of electronic smoking devices and the brazenness with which students are using these in the building have increased exponentially due to ease of accessibility and less noticeable odours or smoke. The updates to the board policy and code of conduct are important, preventative steps to dissuade students from engaging in unhealthy behaviours at school with the goal of encouraging Hillsborough’s youth to make decisions that are in their best interests.”
Making decisions in their best interests – that involves labelling them as drug users and reporting them to the police? Not only that, on top of a mandatory three-day exclusion, students can look forward to having "a complaint filed against them with the municipal court,” where "violators are also subject to incremental fines based on the number of offenses."
The school district issued its own press release, where it stated: “The contents of an electronic smoking device are not easily identified and can range from tobacco to a controlled dangerous substance. Because of this, students found in possession of an electronic smoking device or its components will be considered under suspicion of being under the influence of drugs while at school as would any student in possession of anything that would constitute drug paraphernalia."
Meanwhile, Britain can look forward to some back-to-school stories about children being told off for their haircuts or inappropriate trousers – it’s like America currently exists on a different planet.