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New Law Prohibits Vaping In New Hampshire Schools

Electric Tobacconist via Flickr CC

A law signed by Governor Sununu last month explicitly prohibits all vaping devices - including e-cigarettes, vape pens, and e-liquids - on school grounds and in areas that prohibit indoor smoking. 

The new law aims to clear up confusion in the state's tobacco laws, which previously banned vaping devices that contained nicotine.

Patricia Tilley, Deputy Director of the Division of Public Health Services at the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, says the nicotine clause lead to confusion, especially in schools, where staff had no way to prove that students’ e-liquid contained nicotine.

“There was ambiguity in the law,” she says. “This clarifies that no matter what the liquid is inside the e-cigarette device, the device and the liquid are prohibited.”

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that at least a quarter of high schoolers use vaping products, and that number is on the rise. Alyssa Thompson, Director of Programs at Breathe New Hampshire, says that the new law could help stem this but that schools need to figure out how to balance zero-tolerance discipline with services that help students change behavior.

“I think that’s the crossroads we’re at with this issue,” she says. “When it’s potentially an addiction issue, students do need help; they do need treatment and resources.”

The DHHS Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program is offering to work with schools to implement the new law.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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