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E-cigs and schools

May 8, 2014 - By Steven R. Peck

The reasons for prohibition are straightforward and legitimate

A few days ago a national news report stated that "for public school districts with regulations against cigarettes, new electronic cigarettes pose a quandary."

They shouldn't. As Fremont County School District 25 in Riverton is demonstrating, establishing formal policy against the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds can be done -- and ought to be.

It is an entirely appropriate action, albeit the sort that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. It reflects the unpredictability of our times, as well as the necessity for governing entities in the public trust to remain alert, flexible and responsive.

The "e-cigarette" is a strange technological development, but the kind of technological development that the creators and custodians of public policy find themselves confronting as the advance of technology continues relentlessly.

Odd as the e-cigarette is, however, is it really that much stranger than the traditional cigarette itself, in which dried, shredded, toasted, and chemical-laced tobacco leaves are encased in a paper cylinder before being set afire so the user can put the smoldering tube into his or her mouth and suck the smoke directly to the lungs?

If it has been a while since you have heard the great comedian Bob Newhart's bit about a person on the telephone explaining cigarettes to someone who's never heard of them, it is worth a fresh listen. Perhaps Mr. Newhart, who reads our newspaper, no doubt, might need to update that piece of comedy to include the specifications of electronic cigarettes as well.

A primary function of the e-cigarette is to introduce an addictive chemical into the body of the user. Whether the delivery mechanism is a burning cigarette or electronic version that creates vapor for the same purpose, it makes perfect sense to forbid its use in our public schools.

A quandary? Not at all. District 25, proceed.

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