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Welcome to our tobacco-free school. This includes electronic smoking devices!

Electronic cigarettes, e-cigs, hookah pens, vape pens, mods … they have many different names but are all designed to do the same thing: deliver nicotine. Electronic smoking devices are more discrete than traditional cigarettes, illegal in Colorado for people under age 18, and against state law for a person of any age to use when on school property or at a school-sponsored event.

If your response to these facts is similar to those below, you are not alone.

You’re at your son’s football game, and a staff member tells you that vaping isn’t allowed. “Wait, what? The commercial said I could use it anywhere.”

In today’s market, electronic smoking devices are not regulated. This means that there are no rules to ensure that advertisements are truthful, or that these products are tested for safety. And we do not know what is in them. In 2011, Colorado became the second state to limit e-cigarettes for minors. The devices are considered “tobacco products” under state law, and as such, use is prohibited on all school property and at school-sponsored events by any person. This includes students, teachers, staff, and visitors.

“I bought one for my teenager to discourage her from using cigarettes. It’s much safer than smoking, right?”

In addition to being illegal for any person under the age of 18, these products encourage addiction. The teen brain is more easily addicted to nicotine than an adult’s, a fact the tobacco industry is counting on. Equally as alarming is that the devices vaporize ingredients that were never intended to be inhaled. Scientific studies have now proven that the aerosol produced can contain cancer-causing agents, such as heavy metals.

“The school just called to say they confiscated my son’s vape pen. Can they do that?”

Yes they can, and they are required by law to communicate and enforce their Tobacco-Free Schools policy.

Schools are deeply committed to helping students develop healthy habits and to protecting them from harm. Knowing that young people rarely consider the long-term health consequences associated with tobacco use when they start, and that 9 out of 10 users start before the age of 18, this is a policy that we should all take seriously.

Keeping our kids tobacco-free provides life-long benefits. Tell your kids that you don’t want them to smoke or vape and that you will be disappointed if they do. Your attitude and feelings about their smoking status has more influence than you might realize. And praise your school for ensuring a tobacco-free environment; your words of support will not go unnoticed.

Sources: Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids; CDC Office on Smoking and Health;