Ala. health department wants schools to have e-cigarette policies

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The Alabama Department of Public Health is encouraging school systems to re-evaluate their school policies to include rules for alternative nicotine products. (Source: Pixabay/stock image)

By Lydia Nusbaum, WSFA

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – The Alabama Department of Public Health is encouraging school systems to re-evaluate their school policies to include rules for alternative nicotine products.

“The kids. They have no idea what they are ingesting or what they are inhaling,” said Kay Mathews, with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Experts say the use of alternative nicotine products like e-cigarettes has exploded over the years. The National Drug Institute said there was a dramatic increase in a teenager’s use of vaping devices between 2017 and 2018.

The department is partnering with groups to survey school policies across the state.

Mathews said schools currently have tobacco policies, but they said not all of them have policies preventing the use of vaping devices or e-cigarettes.

“A lot of the school board members like I said before are unaware of even what an e-cigarette looks like,” she said. “What it’s made up of.”

They are now encouraging schools to come up with comprehensive policies to combat these devices.

For example, they are sharing with school boards a model policy in North Carolina, which includes prevention and cessation programs.

“Services are needed to help these kids. They can’t do it alone,” Mathews said. “A follow-up to being caught vaping. It’s not just to suspend them. In-school suspension. Out of school suspension is not going to solve the problem.”

Birmingham City Schools, Montgomery Public Schools and Huntsville City Schools all have policies with e-cigarettes and alternative nicotine products.

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