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UPDATE: This story has been updated to include comments from Sgt. Gary Howard with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. 

 

Vaping products seized from juveniles are to be destroyed following a court order issued Monday by Juvenile Court Judge Larry Warner. 

The move comes after school resource officers saw an increase in the number of vaping devices being found at school — even in the middle school grades.

“We had 30 or 40 confiscated in the last few weeks of school,” said Sgt. Gary Howard, community services director and public information officer for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. 

Over the summer, school resource officers learned the devices can hold more than just nicotine. 

“The issue we’re seeing is that the juice in vaping devices can contain other substances, like THC,” said Bo Magnusson, school safety supervisor for the Cumberland County School System. 

Vaping devices or e-cigarettes heat liquids containing nicotine, flavors and other chemicals to form an aerosol that is inhaled. 

These products are the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students currently use e-cigarettes or vaping devices. 

The long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes and vaping devices are not known, the CDC says. However, the agency said several fires and explosions resulting in serious injuries have been linked to the batteries used in these devices. 

Under the new court order, all tobacco contraband found in the possession of youth younger than 18 will be destroyed. 

The school system has also developed procedures for dealing with tobacco and vaping use.

The school principal will handle the first tobacco offense according to school disciplinary policy. Use, possession, sale and distribution of tobacco is considered a Level III misbehavior under policy 6.300. Disciplinary options include detention, in-school suspension, corporal punishment, social adjustment classes and other disciplinary actions considered appropriate. 

The principal will also turn over tobacco or vaping devices to the school resource officer to be destroyed.

Howard said it was important to have all schools handling the issue in a consistent manner.

“With this, we deal with everything the same,” he said. 

Magnusson said, “Any time they find these devices, they’ll get destroyed.”  

If a second offense occurs, the student will be issued a citation to appear before the youth services officer and required to attend a tobacco and vaping class offered at the TAD Center, which costs $20. 

On the third offense, the juvenile will be cited to appear in juvenile court before Warner. 

The CDC encourages individuals using tobacco products to quit. Resources are available at smokefree.gov or by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW. 

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.