2014-11-19 / Local News

School district bans e-cigs

Ledger Staff Writer

Cherokee County School District is updating its tobacco policy to include a ban on a tobacco substitute called electronic cigarettes.

Commonly called ecigarettes, the batterypowered devices release a water vapor to provide doses of nicotine and other additives to the user. E-cigarettes would be included in the list of tobacco products prohibited on school grounds as part of the district’s policy to maintain tobacco-free school campuses.

The district has proposed adding e-cigarettes to its policies on tobacco use so it is compliance with state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) regulations, said Dr. Carl Carpenter, Cherokee County School District Director of Human Resources. The school district’s policy is to provide a 100 percent tobacco free, smoke-free environment for all students, staff and visitors on all school campuses.

The e-cigarette policy change requires two readings by the Cherokee County School Board for approval. After unanimously passing first reading last week, school trustees are scheduled to discuss final approval of the e-cigarette policy at its Dec. 8 meeting.

A state law enacted last year in South Carolina bans minors from buying electronic cigarettes.

Minors in possession of tobacco products face a civil fine, or must complete a tobacco education class instead. A business that illegally sells e-cigarettes to a minor faces up to a $400 fine for repeat offenses.

E-cigarettes have grown in popularity among students in recent years.

A statewide youth tobacco survey conducted in 2013 by DHEC showed 3.7 percent of South Carolina high school students use e-cigarettes.

The percentage of U.S. middle and high school students who use electronic cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A National Youth Tobacco Survey showed the percentage of high school students who reported ever using an ecigarette rose from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 10.0 percent in 2012. Overall, the survey found more than 1.78 million middle and high school students nationwide in 2012 had tried e-cigarettes.

The tobacco survey results raise concern that e-cigarettes could become an entry point for young people to start using regular cigarettes and other conventional tobacco products.

“About 90 percent of all smokers begin smoking as teenagers,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., director of the CDC Office on Smoking and Health. “We must keep our youths from experimenting or using any tobacco product. These dramatic increases suggest that developing strategies to prevent marketing, sales, and use of ecigarettes among youth is critical.”

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