School officials seldom strip-search students looking for cigarettes. And vaping is far less harmful to your health than smoking.
Yet students were reportedly strip-searched for vaping devices in Wisconsin. Six female teens say they were forced to strip so school officials could search them for vaping devices. Parents of the teens, who attend Suring High School in Wisconsin, hired a lawyer, after the local prosecutor decided not to bring criminal charges against the school officials who did the strip search.
In Wisconsin, it’s against the law for any school employee to strip-search a student.
Yet the district attorney said on February 15 that he would not press charges against the superintendent and school nurse who made the girls disrobe, because Wisconsin law defines a strip search as requiring the exposure of genitals, pubic areas, breasts, or butts. The district attorney
said the girls were asked to strip down to their underwear and bras but not to take off their undergarments. Two students who weren’t wearing underwear were allowed to leave on leggings while officials patted down their legs. “One of the students was asked to pull her bra band away from her body, but her breasts were not exposed to Ms. Casper or the nurse,” [he] said in a statement.
One of the girls contradicts this account, however, telling police that she was made to reveal her breasts so they could check under her bra too….According to TCH Daily News, which first reported on the incident, the students were brought in for the searches after being caught vaping on school grounds. One parent told the paper that her daughter “was taken into a room and gave them her vape and the superintendent told her that she was going to strip search her anyway.”
Some of the girls’ parents told the Green Bay Press Gazette that they hired attorney Jeff Olson to represent them. “Olson said he plans to draft a settlement proposal and move on through litigation if a settlement isn’t reached,” the paper reported earlier today. “To my way of thinking, it’s hard to justify an intrusive search for an e-cigarette that you have already found,” Olson told Fox 11.
Searching for electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices ought to be a low priority for school officials, who should be worrying more about illegal drugs or cigarettes. As Reason magazine notes, “the best available evidence suggests that vaping is far safer than smoking cigarettes, that it is more effective than nicotine patches or gums at helping smokers quit, and that the health benefits of encouraging smokers to switch outweigh the harms of vaping.” Research shows that “widespread switching from smoking to vaping would prevent between 1.6 million and 6.6 million premature deaths by 2100.”
Restrictions on e-cigarettes drive people back to smoking cigarettes, which are more harmful to their health, notes Reason. Research suggests “a ban on flavored e-cigarettes in San Francisco…increased the use of combustible tobacco among teens.” And “e-cigarette taxes likely push many kids to smoke (far more dangerous) cigarettes,” says economist Scott Lincicome, citing a National Bureau of Economic Research paper. It noted that e-cigarette sales lead to “reduced cigarette use,” while e-cigarette taxes “significantly increase cigarette use.” That is worrisome, in light of “evidence suggesting smoking is substantially more dangerous than” vaping e-cigarettes.
“E-cigarettes could replace much or most cigarette consumption in the U.S.” said William T. Godshall, Smokefree Pennsylvania’s executive director. His group had campaigned in the past for smoke-free public vicinities, higher cigarette taxes, and cigarette pack graphic warnings.
“There is no evidence that e-cigarettes have ever harmed anyone, or that…nonsmokers have begun using the products,” Godshall said. Godshall rated e-cigarettes a 2 or lower on a scale of harm ranging 1 to 100, where lozenges and nicotine gums are 1 and cigarettes are 100.