Vaping in schools and Kent’s new tobacco law

 

Stow-Munroe Falls High School Principal, Kent City Council Member and a Kent Police Officer discuss JUULS and a new law in Kent.

 

The JUUL was created as an alternative option for cigarette smokers according to their website.

Now the company is under fire. Teenagers are using JUULS while in school and at home. The company recently stopped selling a lot of their flavored pods in stores to reduce the risk of teens purchasing the pods.

JUULS have more nicotine than other vaping devices, and some believe it is encouraging teens to smoke cigarettes according to the National Center for Health Research.

Dr. Jeffery Hartmann, prinicpal of Stow-Munroe Falls High School (SMFHS), has noticed a problem with the small vaping device in his school. 

Students at SMFHS have been reported to hit the JUUL while in class and in the bathroom. 

“The predominant one has been the use in the bathrooms. Occasionally, we’ll have someone do something in the hallway,” said Hartmann.

Hartmann has noticed a rise in vaping devices, specifically the JUUL, since the company began to market the product. But Hartmann believes the use of the device in school has started to die down.

The JUUL falls under SMFHS’s tobacco free campus rule. Students can face a suspension and charges. They are also required to take a tobacco workshop. 

Hartmann has noticed another problem with JUULS in his school. This time with THC. Students are now purchasing cartridges and oils to put in their JUULS that contain THC.

Dr. Hartmann talking about a recent K-9 search at SMFHS.

In July of 2018,  Kent, right next to the city of Stow, passed a new law on tobacco products. It is now illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase any tobacco product, including JUULS. Kent is the 14th city in Ohio to pass this. Cleveland Heights became the 15th city in October.

Jeff Neistadt, Health Commissioner of Kent, was the one who pushed for this to be passed. In his letter to tobacco retailers, he wrote, “All retailers of tobacco and nicotine products are required to post a sign in a conspicuous place stating the new legal age of 21. Failure to comply with the ordinance may lead to fines up to $1,000 for each violation.”

Roger Sidoti, a member of Kent City Council, voted on the new law over the summer. He says one reason this law passed was because of the rise in vaping and the dangers of it.

Facts on vaping provided by the U.S. Surgeon General website.

Kent City Schools had problems with vaping similar to SMFHS. Parents were coming to the city addressing the problem.

“We had a public meeting as a committee. We heard from school officials, we heard from parents, we heard from the health providers in the community. A variety of people who came in to talk to us about it,” Sidoti said.

The initiative for this law in Kent started in 2015. The ordinance went into effect on July 18, 2018. But the health department did not begin to enforce the law until October 1, according to the public health website

The consequences for breaking the law are civil-based rather than criminal-based. The first offense will be a fine. The second offense can be a fine up to $500 and the third offense is up to $1,000.

“We had abundance of positive feedback. It was mostly from parents of school-aged children,” Sidoti said.

The Kent Public Health Department says 76% of Kent residents supported the new law.

“I think there’s only an upside to it, really,” Lt. Mike Lewis from the Kent Police Department said.

Lt. Lewis does not see the city of Kent changing the age back to 18 in the future. Neither does Roger Sidoti. 

“Hopefully we see some positive results. So why would we change it back?” Lewis said.

 

The Ordinance in detail. Picture provided by Kent Public Health website.