and caitlyn mcquire
USC School of Journalism
Dorchester School District Two is looking into making sure its policies dealing with tobacco includes the prohibition of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) on school property.
At DD2’s most recent board meeting, March 24, board members mentioned wanting to ensure that policy also included the use of e-cigarettes.
Linda Huffman, assistant superintendent of administration and personnel, said she knows there have been a couple of instances within the district with students smoking the e-cigarettes on school property, which is why school officials want to examine the policy dealing with tobacco.
“It’s something the school district is looking at,” she said. “We don’t want there to be smoking anywhere.”
E-cigarettes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They do not contain tobacco but liquid nicotine, and South Carolina’s poison control officials are warning people about the dangers of the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes.
ABC 15 reports the FDA intends to propose a regulation that would extend the agency’s “tobacco product” authorities – which currently only apply to cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco – to other categories of tobacco products that meet the statutory definition of “tobacco product.”
“The FDA regulates electronic cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes as druges or devices,” the FDA told ABC 15 in a statement. “Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, manufacturers claim that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes. However, the FDA has questioned the safety of these products. When the FDA analyzed samples of two popular brands they found variable amounts of nicotine and traces of toxic chemicals, including known cancer-causing substances (carcinogens). This prompted the FDA to issue a warning about potential health risks associated with electronic cigarettes, the report stated.
The number of calls linked to liquid nicotine to the Palmetto Poison Control Center at the University of South Carolina increased from three in 2011 to 25 in 2013, according to a report Tuesday by the Palmetto Poison Control Center at the University of South Carolina. That 733% increase during the past two years led the center, which serves all 46 counties in the state, to issue a public alert this week.
Toxic exposure to the liquid has become a problem not only in the state, but also around the nation, as the smoking alternative rises in popularity. According to The National Poison Data System, liquid nicotine cases have increased nationally by 300 percent since 2012.
Liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be harmful and or even lethal if ingested or absorbed through the skin. The liquid is made up of concentrated nicotine, flavoring, vegetable glycol or propylene glycol, or both, and comes in an array of flavors and nicotine strengths, including many with no nicotine.
Although e-cigarettes are becoming more popular in adults and teenagers Huffman said she and fellow DD2 officials do not want to see students smoking anything on school property – nor would they want other students to see it and pick up the habit.
“Policies need to support the work we need to do in school,” she said. “E-cigarettes give the air that you are smoking.”