The Texas Education Agency says more than 330,000 middle school and high school students, or 13% of all students in grades 6 to 12, experimented with vaping in 2018. That is four times the number of students, up from 3%, that vaped in 2012.
School officials say the rising numbers are alarming because of health risks. In addition to cancer-causing chemicals, e-cigarettes contain highly-addictive nicotine. According to tobaccofree.com, nicotine impacts adolescent brain cell activity related to attention, learning and memory. It also increases anxiety, irritability and impulsivity.
In 2019, the Texas Legislature changed the legal age for purchasing e-cigarettes to 21. That means local school boards are required to prohibit vaping by students. As a result, students are not allowed to smoke, use, or possess e-cigarettes or vaping-related paraphernalia at any school-related or school-sanctioned activity, whether they are on or off school property.
The penalties for teen vaping
Students who are caught with e-cigarettes can face disciplinary action from their schools. This can include out-of-school and in-school suspension, placement in a disciplinary alternative education program, and even expulsion. All can have a major impact on the quality of a student’s education.
Under state law, minors caught purchasing or possessing e-cigarettes must attend an E-Cigarette and Tobacco Awareness Program or perform community service. Failure to meet this requirement can result in a suspension of the minor’s driver’s license. Violations are also punishable by fines of up to $200.
The penalties increase greatly if vaping is used to deliver THC oil, which is the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis. THC possession can lead to lengthy prison terms and fines. There also are lifelong consequences associated with a felony conviction related to employment, college, and housing.
Fighting for “innocent until proven guilty”
While teen vaping is a serious problem in Texas, the Legislature and local schools are reacting in a heavy-handed manner. In their haste to combat the issue they are casting a wide net that can entrap innocent youths. You may have questions about due process. Your teen may have been just a bystander among a group of other youths who were caught vaping. In any case, the accusations can cast a dark cloud over your teen’s future. With law enforcement and school officials wanting to look tough on vaping, you may have a difficult time pleading your case. You may also feel overwhelmed and helpless.
The drug defense attorneys at The Webb Firm, P.C. have experience handling cases involving teens and vaping in Conroe and throughout Montgomery County. Our familiarity with the local legal system gives us an edge when dealing with law enforcement and the courts. We also know what your case means to you and will treat your family with the compassion that you deserve. Contact us today for a free case consultation.