What our area is doing to combat teens vaping
BALDWIN COUNTY. Ala. (WPMI) —
A new study released today found high schoolers' use of e-cigarettes nearly doubled over the past year. According to that study,1 in 5 high school seniors said they'd vaped in the past month.
News of this study has caught the attention of lawmakers across the country, including here in Alabama. The national survey only re-enforces what most of us already know.
In Alabama the current law prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to minors does not include electronic cigarettes, and it’s a big problem.
The Fairhope High School Principal Jon Cardwell says electronic cigarettes or vaping devices at school are getting out of hand.
"We're averaging probably two or three a week and when we do it’s a suspension, so then you’ve got kids vaping, harming themselves and missing school. Then people say "Well then don’t suspend them," well, then I've got bathrooms full of vape, so what do you do then?" said Cardwell.
Cardwell says every high school and some middle schools have the same problem.
"I know there's a law of under-19 but lets make it to where if we track it back to a business who's selling i,t then lets hammer that business. If they are giving it to my kids then they ought to pay a penalty, financial or something. But something has to be done to where I don’t have 6th,7th and 8th graders at basketball games vaping and then my kids at school doing it," said Cardwell.
More than 37% of high school seniors say they've vaped, up from just over a quarter of 12th graders last year. The annual report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows kids are vaping nicotine as well as marijuana. Many also claim they're just vaping e-liquid flavors.
"Under our current laws there's nothing preventing stores from selling these items to minors. We need to be able to tighten the code," said Rep. Matt Simpson.
Attorney Matt Simpson, who was recently elected to the Alabama House, says Alabama's law needs to include electronic cigarettes and vaping in its language. Right now selling these items to a minor goes unchecked in Alabama.
"We're not going after the vaping shops, we're not going after or prohibiting vaping or anything like that. We just need to make sure a minor's access to this is restricted," said Simpson.
Simpson says lawmakers from both Mobile and Baldwin County met two weeks ago to discuss the matter. He plans to push for the change in the next legislative session.