Vape Pens? Vaping?: A New Technology Tests School Policy

Recently a number of incidents at U-32 have involved something called a “Vape Pen.” What is a Vape Pen, and what is U-32’s policy on “vaping?”

Assistant Principal Jody Emerson explained what a vape pen is. “Basically they are electronic cigarettes that you can put juices into to smoke.”

Senior Dalton James had a different description. He said vaping involves “…a glycerin sugar water that is heated up that creates a chemical bond of smoke that some people say is bad, but the bad ones are the ones that have nicotine in it or THC.”

Jody disagreed with this statement. “I believe there is a misconception that because you can buy juices to put in them that are supposed to have zero nicotine people think these are safe, but if you read the label of the juices it says harmful or fatal if swallowed. Yet people are ingesting this juice into the lungs as vapor.”

Junior Tanner Cameron was recently suspended for “vaping” at school.   Asked why he would bring a vape pen onto school grounds, he said “I didn’t know the rules about the vape pen because no one said it was under the drugs and alcohol section in the handbook.”

The U-32 Student Handbook doesn’t directly address vape pens. “It is the policy of the U-32 School District that substance abuse, possession, and the sale or other transmission of drugs, including tobacco products, e-cigarettes, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia will not be tolerated.” A vape pen is certainly paraphernalia, but isn’t necessarily used for nicotine or drugs.

“I do not know why a student would bring [a vape pen] onto school grounds,” Jody said, before offering a simple test for the school’s policy: “…to clear up any misunderstanding about the policies: if a minor can’t buy it, then it’s probably not allowed here.”

Asked whether vape pens should be allowed at school, U-32 senior Liz Aitchison summed up a common sense view: “I don’t think they should be allowed at school, but I do think it should be more clear about what is allowed and what is not.”