Information About Student Vaping for School Administrators

Schools also have the authority to create their own policies about tobacco use (including e-cigarette use) on school property for students, staff, and visitors.

Here’s what you can do.

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Massachusetts Smoke-Free Workplace Law and Schools

The Massachusetts Smoke-Free Workplace Law prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces, including public and private schools. In addition, Massachusetts requires that all public schools through high school prohibit smoking on school grounds, on school buses, and at school sponsored events during normal school hours. The law is commonly referred to as the “Education Reform Act” (MG.L. ch. 270, §22(b)(2); MGL c. 71, §§2A, 37H; c. 90, §7B(10)). Governor Baker signed legislation in 2018 that amends the “Education Reform Act” to include e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery products. This took effect on December 31, 2018.

Review and strengthen current school tobacco policy

  • The Massachusetts Association of Health Boards developed guidance in 2018 for schools looking to address e-cigarettes in their school tobacco policy. This guidance document is being updated and will be posted when finalized.
  • Public and Private Schools and The Massachusetts Smoke-Free Workplace Law – questions and answers for schools about the Smoke-Free Workplace Law
  • Massachusetts Law regarding Student Use of Tobacco Products – a link to state law about use of tobacco products within school buildings or facilities or on school grounds.
  • Free Signs – Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse (Note: Signs for schools incorporate e-cigarette language and imagery.)
  • Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health (INDEPTH) is an alternative to suspension or citation that helps schools and communities address the teen vaping problem in a supportive way. Punitive measures can punish young people who have unfairly been targeted by the tobacco and vaping industries, hooking them to their addictive products. Instead of punishing youth, INDEPTH is an interactive program that teaches students about nicotine dependence, establishing healthy alternatives and how to kick the unhealthy addiction that got them in trouble in the first place. Developed by the American Lung Association.

Educate staff

E-cigarettes and other vaping products are often not easily recognizable. Educating staff about these products and about your school’s policy to address them is an important part of strategy to reduce student use.

Educate parents

As a school administrator, educating parents with information about the problem of vaping and steps they can take to protect youth is critical.

Resources that you can make available to parents:

Know more about tobacco use in your district/school

Collecting data on types of tobacco products students are using and where they obtain tobacco products can help inform education efforts and decisions about school policies. Sample surveillance questions about tobacco use, as well as questions about how students obtain tobacco products, perceptions of harm, and marijuana use, are included in the document Sample Surveillance Questions about Tobacco Use.

Additional uses of these data include:

  • Capturing trends over time in use of conventional and emerging tobacco products and comparing local use rates with statewide use rates.
  • Tracking of marijuana in electronic vapor products, and concurrent use of tobacco and marijuana.
  • Increasing support for community-level tobacco control policies which have the potential to decrease youth tobacco exposure, access, and use.

Consider establishing a chapter of The 84 Movement

The 84 is a statewide movement of youth fighting tobacco in Massachusetts. Youth groups in a high school or community organization who want to fight against the tobacco industry’s tactics sign up to become an 84 Chapter and be a part of the movement. Chapters educate their peers and adults about the tobacco industry’s tactics; help to create change locally and statewide to reduce the influence of tobacco in their communities; promote social norms messaging around youth tobacco use; and more. Visit The84.org for more information. (The 84 is expanding into middle school, so please check the website for more information.)

Share resources with staff for quitting tobacco

While your staff cannot use tobacco on school grounds, that doesn’t mean they are not current tobacco users. It is important to support staff who use tobacco products by providing them resources to address their own nicotine addiction.

  • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or enroll online at mass.gov/quitting to get connected to a free quit coach and resources
  • Free Quitting Materials – Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse

Know more about resources in your community

The Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program funds eight regional Tobacco-Free Community Partnerships (TFCPs) to provide support, education, and connections to resources to address issues of tobacco use in your community. Contact your local Tobacco-Free Community Partnership for guidance and connections to technical assistance about tobacco use in your school or district. Your local TFCP is available to assist you in conducting a presentation about e-cigarettes to parents or staff.

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