A fact that many students probably know is that previously, vaping laws have been fairly lax for minors. However, recently the tobacco law has been revised to include all vaping products.
Minors can now be penalized not only by the school for possession of these prohibited items, but also by law-enforcement officers.
“Prior to October 1st, the law just included anything tobacco related,” Officer Serina Cumberland said. “Obviously vaping and ecig substances don’t have tobacco in them, so the law had not evolved to include anything in reference to vaping or e-cigarettes.”
The Health and Safety Code Section 161.252 now states that possession, purchase, consumption or receipt of cigarettes, vapor products, or tobacco products by minors is prohibited.
“Basically what that section says is that persons younger than 18 years of age commit an offense if he is found to be in possession of, he purchases, or receives, cigarette, vapor product, or tobacco product,” Cumberland explained.
Now that their are laws prohibiting vapor or vapor related products, there are more consequences that come with getting caught in possession of these items both in school and out of school.
“If you are under 18 and get caught with any vapor products or there is evidence that you bought or sold any of these products the school can pursue charges or you can be ticketed by a law officer,” Cumberland said. “Vapor products include anything associated with an ecig or any similar device.”
The punishment for being found in possession at school has also harshened.
“Previously, when a student was caught, we took whatever item they had in their possession and gave a DED consequence for having it at school,” Assistant Principal Athena Corby said. “Now that the state law has changed and now considers vapor products to be tobacco products we give students two DEDs. One for having a prohibited item, the other for having a tobacco product.”
This is not all the school has the justification to do, if the student continues to bring these items to school the punishment becomes more severe.
“If a student is caught a second time we double the punishment, so they get four DEDs,” Corby said. “And on the third time we start issuing tickets.”
With these new laws and consequences, Officer Cumberland wants students to be aware of the kind of trouble they can get into.
“Every year there are laws that change,” Cumberland said. “So I want the student body to know what will affect them. I want students to be warned prior to an incident occurring that these products are now a criminal matter.”
Written by Jules Peterson