Come September 1, it will no longer be legal to buy cigarettes, electronic cigarettes or tobacco products in Texas if you are under the age of 21.
Midland ISD is kicking off an anti-vaping campaign in hopes to educate students and parents of the legal consequences they can face if caught with one on campus..
It’s no secret electronic cigarettes and vaping devices have grown in popularity and use in teens over the last several years, even in schools..
“We’ve seen an increase in use over the past several years, probably predominantly over the last year, year and a half. The marketing of these devices initially was targeted towards kids," said Director of Health Services Imo Jean Douglas
They used to be legal for use starting at age 18 which is typically the age of a senior in high school. But coming up September 1, the legal age for purchase and use is being raised to 21.
“So for students' vaping devices, they can’t have possession of those and we also have a no tolerance policy at MISD. Some of the liquids that some of the students put in the vaping devices also contain THC or other illegal substances and they may not even be aware of what the vials contain, so possession of THC in Texas can have significant legal consequences," said Douglas.
Douglas says some of the devices she has seen are even designed to be disguised.
“A lot of the ones we see are the JUUL devices and they look like a flash drive or a USB port, the pods that go inside those look like USB devices. We’ve seen devices that look like cell phones, jewelry, pens and some of them conspicuously look like tobacco products," said Douglas.
Since it’s a product that hasn’t been on the market for that long, it’s too soon to know the full long term consequence of smoking them. But Douglas says recently, new research has come to light.
“It’s not healthy for students' brains it can damage their immune systems. Nationwide we’re starting to see health consequences that are dramatic, they’re looking at some situations with lung problems and the department of state health services in Texas just recently issued a health advisory saying that vaping may cause severe lung disease, so we really want to protect our students and families," said Douglas.
The fine for underage purchase of cigarettes, e-cigarettes or tobacco products is $100. Businesses caught selling these products to underage recipients can be fined up to $500.