GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — A local school district is following the national lead and cracking down on electronic cigarettes, reminding students and parents of the dire consequences.
Parents at Houston High School, when asked by WREG, did not seem to fully understand what e-cigarettes are. The Germantown Municipal School District wants to fix that and keep students safe.
The district sent a letter to every parent in the district alerting them to the dangers of electronic cigarettes—better known as "e-cigs," "vapes" or "vape pens."
“Adults come and say, ‘Is this a safe alternative to smoking?’ The answer is no. It’s not," said Dr. Mark Castellaw with the Baptist Medical Group.
E-cigs have gained popularity from helping people get themselves off regular cigarettes.
According to the FDA, electronic cigarettes are not an approved method to help people quit smoking, and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes that nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development. E-cigs also contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.
“The apparatus that heats the water vapor, it itself releases elements you ingest as well that could be carcinogens," Castellaw said. "Your lungs are not made to handle anything other than fresh air. That’s what they're made to handle."
For that reason, Germantown school officials are warning students they could be suspended if they're caught with any tobacco or vapor devices. And if they're under 18, the police will get involved.
It seems like their bigger issue is helping parents understand the dangers; e-cigs can look as innocent as a USB drive.
“I wouldn’t know that," said Carey Paudler, whose son is a junior at Houston High School. "No, I’d never heard that. Would be good for us to know that.”
Paudler already heard about e-cigs from her son.
"He says he hears his friends saying they're better than cigarettes, but he knows they aren’t, and they're addicting and can cause health problems," she said.
She said she's glad GMSD is stepping in.
The district will also host an educational parent workshop Monday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Houston High School.