FOWLERVILLE — The Fowlerville Community Schools Board of Education has passed a resolution strongly opposing the sale and marketing of vaping devices, e-cigarettes and tobacco products to youth in the community.
While the resolution doesn’t create any rules or oversight, both the board and administrators hope the move will draw attention to a growing problem.
Board President Amy Sova said the health and well-being of students is paramount. She said vaping violations and offenders have “increased significantly” since students returned to school full-time after COVID limitations.
“Sadly (vaping) has resulted in extended suspensions for repeat offenders,” Sova said.
Board members and district leadership discussed measures to promote a safe and healthy environment for all students, faculty and visitors during the board meeting Feb. 6.
Sova and Superintendent of Fowlerville Community Schools Matthew Stuard indicated they’d be willing to commit time and resources to working with community leaders, law enforcement agencies and parents to establish community programs that discourage teen and youth vaping and smoking.
“This resolution reflects our commitment to maintaining a positive learning environment and prioritizing the well-being of our students,” Stuard said. “We believe it’s important to address vaping concerns and provide appropriate guidance and resources.”
He added one of the resulting issues of excessive vaping is closer monitoring of bathrooms, which can be difficult given administrator and teacher responsibilities.
Specifically, the resolution states: “The board urges all local elected officials, law enforcement agencies, and community partners to join forces in reducing the availability of vaping devices, e-cigarettes, and tobacco products to young people.
“This effort should focus on enforcement of existing laws against the sale of these products to minors and on expanding educational initiatives to inform youth about the health risks associated with vaping devices, e-cigarettes, and tobacco use.”
As owner of Fowlerville’s Smoke House, Lisa Stebbins said she’s refused to sell vaping products to adults who have admitted to her they were buying items for their children or younger siblings. Stebbins added some parents are part of the problem, and that a lack of oversight or consistent laws makes it difficult for both families and business owners.
“If (vaping) is a problem here, it’s a problem everywhere,” Stebbins said.
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She quit smoking herself a decade ago and has reduced the number of vaping products she carries. “I would say if (jurisdictions) want to ban vaping here in Fowlerville, they should ban in everywhere. It’s not fair to just ban in some communities,” she said.
Fowlerville Schools does prohibit the use, possession, or distribution of all smoking related products on school grounds, a measure passed several years ago. Any student found vaping or smoking on school property will face penalties that could escalate into suspensions for repeat offenders.
The collective hope is the resolution might prompt parents and guardians to have conversations with their children about vaping. Stuard said he’ll work with district administrators to determine whether educational programs or other resources are needed in Fowlerville, adding a wider discussion with other school district leaders in Livingston and Ingham counties is possible.
“We have a close relationship with (neighboring school districts) so this is a topic we could bring up at a (wider) level,” Stuard said.
— M. Alan Scott is a freelance writer for The Livingston Daily. Contact the newsroom at [email protected].