School Takes Alarming Step To Stop Vaping By Removing Bathroom Doors

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A Maryland school is facing criticism over privacy concerns after removing the doors from their bathrooms in an attempt to stop teens from vaping.

Officials at Broadneck High School in Annapolis, Md., said they are concerned about a rise in student use of vapor products and want to discourage students from vaping or “juuling,” which refers to the poplar e-cigarette brand JUUL. The school removed half of their main bathroom doors Tuesday and said they will remain that way indefinitely, reported the Capital Gazette.

Officials stressed they only removed the doors from bathrooms where the stalls are not visible from the hallway. Bob Mosier, a spokesman for the school, told the Capital Gazette Friday that, “It’s unfortunate that it came to that.” The school said they have not received any complaints about the new policy from parents, however, students are criticizing the policy as an infringement on their privacy.

“It’s inconvenient and embarrassing,” Sarah Noble, a senior at the school, told the Capital Gazette. “Taking the door off the bathroom isn’t hard. Talking to students and getting across to them is.”

School officials throughout the country are warning parents about the alleged dangers of vaping, which they say has skyrocketed in popularity with teens. Many fear this will lead to students smoking combustible cigarettes, despite the fact youth smoking rates are at historic lows. Public school officials in New Jersey are beginning to classify the nicotine delivery devices as “drug paraphernalia.”

Students in Maryland said the aggressive new policy will simply cause teens to vape in a different part of the school, while punishing the rest of the student body that do not use e-cigarettes.

“It’s just a violation of our privacy,” Taylor Gurule, a student at Broadneck High School, told ABC 13. “I understand what’s going on but there’s definitely other ways to change it.”

A recent study, by esteemed tobacco researchers Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Greece and Dr. Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania in Italy, found regular use of electronic cigarettes is “rare” among youths who do not smoke. Meanwhile, cigarette use among 12th graders fell to 4.2 percent in 2016 — down from 24.6 percent in 1997 — even as the number of youth experimenting with vaping devices increased.

Public health experts focused on harm reduction say the misinformed crusade against e-cigarettes risks undoing the gains made in reducing the adult smoking rate in America.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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