Vaping violations: how South is handling the vaping issue

The Tower Staff

In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the consumption of all drugs. Their solution to the rampant heroin crisis ravaging the country was to treat addicts as patients rather than criminals. Anyone who was caught with less than a ten day supply of drugs was sent “a local commision” according to Times Magazine, “consisting of a doctor, lawyer and social worker, where they learn about treatment and available medical services.”

Over the next 12 years, the percentage of people in prison in Portugal for drug law violations dropped by 20 percent. At the core, the Portuguese government understood this: addiction will always exist. It is better to keep addicts safe rather than make them criminals.

South has a vaping problem. The students know this. Administration knows this. We at The Tower know this. Instead of taking the compassionate approach, the decision makers in this school have chosen to castigate students caught vaping.

First, they closed bathrooms, funneling students into small spaces with long wait lines. Then, they ramped up hall-pass monitorization, making sure every student in the hallway is accounted for at all times. Next, they placed hall-monitors in the bathrooms to observe every student that entered. In addition to these actions, students caught vaping would be suspended, the duration of the suspension dependent on the number of offenses.

If the problem is vaping, these aforementioned policies will solve absolutely nothing. If students are addicted to nicotine, they need the option to seek help and support without the fear of repercussions. The actions of this administration instill fear.

We at The Tower believe the current policies are not in place because our administration cares about fixing the problem, rather, they are in place so administrators, when questioned about the problem, can say, “it is all under control.” It is puppet policy: all for show.

If the administration has a change of heart and wants to make genuine improvements in the well-being of South students, here is our recommendation: take a few notes from Portugal. When a student is caught vaping, sit them down with a professional (counselor, social worker, etc.) and try to provide them with resources to quit and overcome nicotine withdrawal. Punishing students for very serious problems with no real desire to help them is belittling and draconian.