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Oak Forest Police Chief Tim Kristin, with Oak Forest High School Dean of Students Jason Thormeyer and Principal Brad Sikora, proposed changes to the Oak Forest Municipal Codes #118.056, #118.057, and #118.058 at the City Council Meeting on Tuesday, February 12. The changes would add "alternative nicotine products" to the list of banned items and products effecting the possession, sale and use by any person under the age of 18 years. Alternative nicotine products is defined as a product or device not consisting of or containing tobacco that provides for the ingestion in to the body of nicotine by chewing, smoking, absorbing, dissolving, inhaling, snorting or otherwise.
E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particles in the air. E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Most have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold a liquid. Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items. Larger devices such as tank systems, or “mods,” do not look like other tobacco products. E-cigarettes are known by many different names. They are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).” • Using an e-cigarette is sometimes called “vaping” or “JUULing.” Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine—the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products.
Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain. The brain keeps developing until about age 25. Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control. Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed. Using nicotine in adolescence may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.
The users of vapes, JUULs, and similar products is extremely prevalent among high school students, creating a new generation of nicotine users and “smokers” after years of successful programs aimed at reducing teen smoking. Every day in high schools across the U.S., the use of electronic cigarettes is common and occurs on school grounds undetected by school staff. Vapes and electronic cigarettes have become increasingly discreet and available in an array of enticing flavors. Some vapes now resemble regular pens and are more difficult for teachers and administrators to notice and confiscate. The JUUL resembles a USB stick, and its small size fits into the palm of a hand.
Tobacco products have been banned from school campuses for decades, but some vapes can use flavored vapor without nicotine or tobacco. These devices can also be used for the ingestion of marijuana and related substances. Devices used for these purposes are often called “wax pens” or “dab pens” and are also small and easily pass undetected.
The City Council approved this code change unanimously.