TUSD board votes to ban e-cigarettes for everyone

2013-07-24T00:00:00Z 2013-07-24T20:26:11Z TUSD board votes to ban e-cigarettes for everyoneAlexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Students, staff and members of the public can no longer smoke e-cigarettes on school grounds in the Tucson Unified School District.

The TUSD Governing Board approved the ban Tuesday night on a 3-2 vote, adding the device to a list of prohibited tobacco-related items. Board members Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks opposed the ban.

The policy update was brought forth not because there has been an onslaught of students using e-cigarettes, but rather in an effort to get with the times, TUSD said.

Stegeman opposed prohibiting students from using e-cigarettes, saying the devices have "legitimate therapeutic value." He advocated allowing usage in designated areas, a suggestion Board President Adelita Grijalva said she was uncomfortable with.

TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez noted it is the school district's job to "promote good behavior and practice," adding that he does not want TUSD to be known for allowing e-cigarette usage.

Stegeman had no problem prohibiting staff members from using electronic cigarettes, saying they chose to work for the district.

Possession or use of electronic cigarettes by a student could result in suspension or expulsion if there is evidence of repeated violations.

Staff members could face disciplinary action, including termination, for failing to comply; members of the public could face a petty offense.

While e-cigarettes are being treated like tobacco under the TUSD policy, there is no tobacco in the devices. Some do, however, contain nicotine.

The nicotine-free devices - which look just like those that do contain nicotine - can be purchased by children, creating a problem for authorities who wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

TUSD is joining a number of other entities that have prohibited e-cigarettes, including Pima County.

Because e-cigarettes are relatively new, there are safety concerns that have yet to be addressed. The levels of nicotine in the devices are not consistent across brands, and the vapors created by igniting the fluids in the e-cigarettes have not been tested for safety.

TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez noted it is the school district's job to "promote good behavior and practice," adding that he does not want TUSD to be known for allowing e-cigarette usage.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@azstarnet.com or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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