Norwin officials want state law to penalize vaping at school
Norwin officials want the state to make it illegal to sell vaping products to minors as well as for students to vape or have electronic smoking products at school.
The administration has asked the school board to consider approving a resolution Monday showing support for amending state House Bill 97. That amendment would make electronic nicotine delivery systems — such as e-cigarettes, Juuls and vape pens — illegal for students to possess on school grounds.
It is illegal to sell tobacco products to minors and for students to use any tobacco products on school property. The resolution calls for making it a summary offense for having the electronic cigarettes at school, the same penalty for violating the existing tobacco law. A summary offense can carry a fine.
Such prohibitions are needed because there is more vaping among students, and “it’s not unique to Norwin,” Superintendent William Kerr said.
Almost 28% of Norwin sophomores reported in the 2017 Pennsylvania Youth Survey they had vaped or used e-cigarettes within the past 30 days, Kerr said. The state average is about 22% for 10th graders, Kerr said.
With vaping products coming in a variety of flavors, “it’s very appealing to minors,” Kerr said.
As of April 5, Norwin High School had disciplined 31 students for vaping and another 18 for possessing or using electronic smoking products this school year, Kerr said.
“Parents don’t understand it. Students don’t understand the damages of it,” Kerr said. “Users of the e-cigarettes don’t realize the harmful effects of the chemicals they are breathing, even though they believe it is a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes.”
Franklin Regional School District and the Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission will conduct a program to educate the public about vaping at 7 p.m. April 23 at Franklin Regional High School.
State Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-Warren, is the prime sponsor of House Bill 97, which was referred to the House Judiciary committee March 29. State Rep. Eric Nelson, R-Hempfield, is one of the co-sponsors.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .