As many of you are probably aware, e-cigarette use among teenagers has become an epidemic. Reports show that an estimated 30% of teenagers are using e-cigarettes. Initially advertised as a safe alternative to smoking, evidence shows that teenagers are more likely to begin smoking after using e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes, vapes, or juuls contain nicotine. They are also used often as a delivery system for marijuana and other illicit drugs. E-cigarettes produce an aerosol that not only contains nicotine, but also formaldehyde, cadmium, benzene and toluene, which have been proven to cause many long-term health effects including cancer.
This epidemic has impacted students in schools across the country including Washingtonville. Usage among our students has increased dramatically as evidenced by reports we have received and disciplinary referrals associated with e-cigarette usage and/or possession.
In November of 2017 New York State added the use of e-cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Act, making it essentially illegal to use e-cigarettes on school grounds. Recently, New York passed the Tobacco 21 Law which requires a person to be 21 years of age to buy any tobacco related products.
It is illegal and a violation of our Code of Conduct to use or possess these items in school or on school grounds. As a result, we have made some revisions to our Code of Conduct at the High School. Any student using or in possession of an e-cigarette, vape, juul, other device or related paraphernalia will receive an out-of-school suspension. Students also must complete a VAPE Educate Program before returning to regular classes. The items will be confiscated and tested by administration and/or security. If found to have THC or any other illegal drugs, the student will be subject to a Superintendent’s Hearing. In New York State, a Principal may suspend a student for up to 5 days. During a Superintendent’s Hearing a student may be suspended for up to a year, dependent upon the infraction and other circumstances.
Our focus will also be to educate students and parents of the harmful effects of using e- cigarettes. We will initiate programs on this issue for parents, students and staff during the course of the school year. Our students have a right to a safe environment to learn and thrive. They should not have to be concerned about whether or not someone is vaping in the bathroom, school bus or anywhere on school property. Administration and security will be very diligent in enforcing the Code of Conduct. We encourage parents to talk with their children about the harmful effects of e- cigarettes and the ramifications if they use or bring any of these items to school. We have posted a number of links to the High School website regarding the facts on e-cigarette usage, the Vape Educate Program and a guide on how to talk with your teen about e-cigarettes. At Washingtonville High School we strive to create a warm, safe and supportive school culture. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders, including students and parents to contribute to these efforts.
Mr. Brian T. Connolly
High School Principal