In an effort to protect teenagers from the harmful effects of vaping, Pleasanton Unified School District unanimously passed a resolution to ban e-cigarette use on campus and at school events, and vowed to support legislation to keep vaping and tobacco products out of young people’s hands.
Before passing the resolution at its Aug. 27 meeting, PUSD’s adult board members asked Megan Sloan, student board representative, whether vaping is much of an issue at Amador High School.
Sloan, an AHS junior, said students “always hear talk on campus, but it’s a whole new thing when you are walking into a bathroom, and see stuff and smell stuff. It’s demoralizing, especially when there is a lot of support out there for students dealing with addiction.”
Also worrisome is that the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes is seeping down into middle school. “It is really alarming,” said Sloan, adding that some of the influence comes from social media.
Trustee Steve Maher, who served as acting principal at Amador before he retired, asked Sloan if she thought installing tobacco and vaping detectors in restrooms and behind buildings would help the situation.
Bathroom monitors would be helpful, Sloan said, but students might find another way to do vaping, and they could find something that is even worse for them. Something with new chemicals could come along, with components and their effects that are unknown.
Further, what she experienced walking into the school restroom was a situation where people were trying to get relief from their own anxiety. “This is numbing for their stress,” she said.
Trustee Joan Laursen said the district should enlist the support of city government to ban e-cigarette sales in Pleasanton.
“Students can buy this in any tobacco shop, or can go to another community. At some point, we need to step up enforcement, so students don’t try untested products that have a deleterious effect on health,” Laursen said.
Youth vaping has come up in the city-school liaison committee. Miller, who sits on the committee with Maher, said the city council members want the city’s Youth Commission to take the lead. It could research data about the problem and map out a direction for future actions.
Miller pointed out that if the city bans e-cigarettes, they could face a referendum seeking to overturn it, or the city might even face a lawsuit.
Governments across the country are beginning to crack down on youth vaping and the sale of e-cigarettes. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced he will launch a state-sponsored public awareness campaign about the health dangers, and put $20 million into a vaping awareness campaign.
In June, the Livermore City Council banned flavored e-cigarettes, citing their appeal to young people. In response, e-cigarette industry leader Juul Labs Inc. collected enough signatures to place a referendum seeking to overturn the city’s ban on the March 3, 2020 ballot. San Francisco in June also banned the sales and distribution of e-cigarettes to teens and children. Juul, with headquarters in San Francisco, mounted a campaign to challenge that ban and so far has collected about $4.5 million for that purpose, according to Forbes Magazine
E-cigarettes were designed to wean smokers away from tobacco cigarettes and their smoke and tars, but they still contain nicotine, which the Surgeon General has said is an addictive substance. Warnings on e-cigarettes say that, too.
A severe lung illness linked to the use of e-cigarettes is blamed for six deaths in the U.S. and hundreds of cases have been reported in 36 states, including California, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The American Lung Association has warned that e-cigarettes are not safe. The FDA is stepping up campaigns to educate youth about the dangers, and the Trump administration on Sept. 11 announced its intention to remove most flavored e-cigarettes — considered more attractive to teenagers — from the marketplace. Only tobacco-flavored vapes would be sold.