ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — When city ordinances governing “public morals and decencies last received a major overhaul in 1963, some modern-day concerns were unimaginable. While Rock Springs lawmakers prohibited the sale of liquor or tobacco to minors, they didn’t envision electronic cigarettes that deliver vaporized liquid nicotine in lieu of tobacco smoke.
Now the Rock Springs City Council is updating the laws to prohibit the sale, gifting, use and possession of e-cigarettes to people under 18.
Before the revised ordinance passed second reading at Tuesday night’s council meeting, students, administrators, and school resource officers spoke in favor of this move.
“Vaping and cellphones are the two biggest distractions that we have,” Rock Springs Junior High School Principal Kristeen Cundall said.
She noted that advancements in technology make it easier for vaping students to conceal their habit.
Cpl. Tony Hall with the Rock Springs Police Department said that e-cigarette use has grown over the past five years, becoming more popular with young people than regular cigarettes, and is now prevalent in middle school students. While new laws won’t stop underage use, Hall said the revised ordinance would add “another layer of intervention.”
The revision proposes a maximum fine of $750, which Councilman David Halter noted is within the range of penalties for other misdemeanor offenses.
Rock Springs High School Assistant Principal William Hiser said students are constantly ducking out of class because they need to vape. He said students have been caught vaping in the bathrooms and even class. Last school year, 60 RSHS students were suspended for tobacco offenses. So far this school year, 80 students have been suspended, according to Hiser.
A third reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the next City Council meeting on April 2.