BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
With vaping an ongoing trend and now trickling down to schools, a recent ordinance was passed by Independence Township to try and curb vaping among minors.
The Township Board voted, Feb. 19, to approve the “Tobacco and Vapor Product” Ordinance – minors cannot attempt to or purchase or possess a tobacco or vapor product, use in a public place or buy with false identification.
A minor can handle tobacco or vaping products as part of their employment but cannot sell to another minor.
Vaping is already not allowed on Clarkston school campuses. If students are found with vaping paraphernalia, the materials are confiscated, parents are notified, and students receive disciplinary consequences.
“Student health and safety are our priority, and we partner with parents to ensure vaping materials do not get into the hands of our students,” said Clarkston Community Schools Superintendent Shawn Ryan.
“Based on the information that is provided by the national media and my school resource officers (SROs) here in our school district, vaping has become enough of a concern that it has warranted the development of a township ordinance,” said Lt. Larry Perry, Oakland County Sheriff’s Independence Township substation commander. “Currently, our township ordinance is the only viable law enforcement mechanism in place to curb vaping by minors.”
SROs had found steadily increasing vaping use by minors prior to the implementation of the township ordinance, Perry said.
Clarkston High School Principal Gary Kaul said vaping “is a pervasive issue with students in the high school age demographic.”
“We have seen a rise in the possession and use of vapes or electronic cigarettes over the past several years,” Kaul said. “This trend is a nationwide phenomena and not unique to Clarkston.”
Students who violate the code of conduct are subject to disciplinary action ranging from suspension to expulsion, the extent of formal discipline being based on the frequency of violations and/or the substance a student is using with the device, he said.
There are also educational or “restorative practices” used with students such as partnering with Clarkston Area Youth Assistance, referrals to the Prime for Life substance education program, referrals to outside counselors or treatment programs, education in school through health curriculum, Wolf Time lessons and discussions, partner programs with the PTSA, counseling, meetings with our deputy liaison officer, ongoing staff education on devices and substance abuse issues, etc., he said.