A high school in New York removed all the doors from their bathrooms in an effort to cut back on student use of electronic cigarettes.
Officials at Rome Free Academy, a high school serving residents of Rome, N.Y., emailed parents Tuesday to alert them to the change, which they argue will also help them cut down on instances of bullying, in addition to vaping. Principal Brian LeBaron says they are concerned about an uptick in student use of the alternative smoking technologies, reports the Rome Sentinel.
Officials dismissed privacy concerns, noting that their bathrooms all have a 90 degree angle at the entrance, but parents and students may feel differently. A recent decision to do the same at a school in Maryland was blasted by students as “a violation of our privacy.”
Broadneck High School in Annapolis, Md., removed half of their main bathroom doors April 17 and said they will remain that way indefinitely. Officials in Maryland also stressed they only removed the doors from bathrooms where the stalls are not visible from the hallway.
“It’s inconvenient and embarrassing,” Sarah Noble, a senior at the school, recently told the Capital Gazette. “Taking the door off the bathroom isn’t hard. Talking to students and getting across to them is.”
Students in Maryland said the aggressive new policy will simply cause teens to vape in a different part of the school, while punishing the rest of the student body that do not use e-cigarettes.
School officials throughout the country are warning parents about the alleged dangers of vaping, which they say has skyrocketed in popularity with teens. Many fear this will lead to students smoking combustible cigarettes, despite the fact youth smoking rates are at historic lows. Public school officials in New Jersey are beginning to classify the nicotine delivery devices as “drug paraphernalia.”
Public health experts focused on harm reduction say the misinformed crusade against e-cigarettes risks undoing the gains made in reducing the adult smoking rate in America. The adult smoking rate fell from 15.8 percent in 2016 to 14.1 percent over the first nine months of 2017.