The Lone Star State takes aim at underage e-cigarette use with harsh penalties for students caught vaping on campus.

Texas schools are gearing up for stricter enforcement of vaping rules on campus with the recent passage of House Bill 114. The new legislation mandates assignment to disciplinary alternative education programs (DAEPs) for students caught using or possessing vapes and e-cigarettes within 300 feet of school property.

Concerns Over Rising Teen Vaping Prompt Tougher Rules

According to the FDA, one in ten middle and high school students now use e-cigarettes. While vaping devices have never been allowed on school grounds, HB 114 removes administrative discretion when disciplining offending students.

“With mandatory DAEP placement, this will unfortunately surprise some parents,” said Suzanne Hamilton of Waco ISD. Districts anticipate needing expanded capacity in their alternative programs to accommodate the increase in vaping-related placements.

However, HB 114 grants flexibility regarding length of DAEP assignment and location. Schools hope this will help them adapt to swelling enrollment in the programs.

Lower Grades at Higher Risk for Violations

Younger students may be most affected by Texas’ stringent new ant-vaping rules. “It’s going to impact, more so, the elementary campuses,” said Hamilton. According to administrators, younger children often access vaping devices from home or find them discarded in neighborhoods.

While campus principals considered age and intent under previous policies, HB 114 limits their discretion. “This is tying some hands when it comes to that discretionary placement,” Hamilton explained.

Texas Schools Committed to Curbing Teen Vaping

Despite potential staffing and enrollment challenges, districts understand the rationale behind HB 114. “The intent really is coming from a good place. It’s aiming to address growing concerns around e-cigarettes and vaping,” said Christine Parks of Temple ISD.

School officials remain committed to informing students and parents about the health risks of vaping. And while the new rules may take some adjusting, Texas schools plan to enforce them to protect kids from nicotine addiction.

Matthew Ma