Plan to let schools destroy seized e-cigarettes approved

Republican Rep. Susan Pulsipher speaks outside of a hearing at the Utah State Capitol Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Salt Lake City. Amid increasing concern about vaping, Utah lawmakers are approving a proposal to allow schools to destroy confiscated e-cigarette devices. Pulsipher said that schools have seen a spike in the number of confiscated devices, but because the law is unclear they've sometimes had to return them. (AP Photo/Lindsay Whitehurst)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Amid increasing concern about vaping, a panel of Utah lawmakers on Wednesday approved a proposal to allow schools to destroy confiscated e-cigarette devices.

Schools are seizing an increasing number of the devices as more students are caught vaping on campus, But the law about what happens to the devices has been unclear — meaning schools sometimes have had to return them under rules for personal electronic devices, Republican Rep. Susan Pulsipher said.

“Some schools have boxes of these devices that they’re not sure what to do with,” she said.

The proposal is expected to be considered by the full Utah House of Representatives during the 2020 session before going to the state Senate.

The plan comes as Utah grapples with more than 100 cases of vaping-related illness, part of a national outbreak. Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data has shown that Utah’s rate of vaping-related lung illnesses is more than six times the national rate.

Nearly 10 percent of Utah students in sixth grade through high school, or about 30,000 kids, reported vaping over the last month, a higher number than those who reported using marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs, according to school survey data.

“The vaping issue is a huge deal,” Pulsipher said.

Many teenagers think they are simply inhaling flavored water when they use e-cigarettes, not realizing the danger of nicotine addiction or lung illness, she said. Her proposal would also create an education program for e-cigarettes and other substances, and fund it with a stipend of $4,000, with most of that going toward a dedicated staffer for each school.

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  • CS Salvi November 20, 2019 at 6:25 pm Reply

    The illnesses have exclusively been limited to THC vaping products, the majority of which were tainted black market products containing vitamin E acetate which is so for the leading culprit of the resulting lung damage. NONE of this has been linked to nicotine vaping products. I wish the press would stop conflating the two as if there’s no difference. It’s an obvious attempt to push more nanny state product bans based on flawed logic and an ill informed public opinion. People have been vaping nicotine products for over a decade now (including myself) and until the recent outbreak we have not seen any significant health issues. Meanwhile smoking cigarettes continue to kill tens of thousands of people every year and yet you can still buy them at just about every gas station in the country. E-cigarettes save lives, lets not ruin this opportunity with ignorance…

  • CJ Salvi November 20, 2019 at 6:29 pm Reply

    While they can’t seem to understand the fact that these cases of lung damage are related to non-nicotine black market THC vaping cartridges, lets hope they are at least smart enough not to just start taking a hammer to these lithium battery containing devices…

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