Schools in some states have started to categorize e-cigarettes as drug paraphernalia, instead of tobacco products, according to the Associated Press.
Students caught with e-cigarettes in these schools are punished more harshly than those found with regular cigarettes.
Most schools treat e-cigarettes like tobacco products, the article notes. Students found to have the devices are generally punished with detention and a letter home, and sometimes a tobacco education class.
Some schools consider e-cigarettes to be drug paraphernalia because they can be used for illegal substances such as marijuana. In these schools, students found to possess e-cigarettes can face long suspensions. They may be required to undergo drug tests, and can have possession of drug paraphernalia marked on their school record.
States where schools treat e-cigarette possession more harshly include North Carolina, New Jersey, Washington and Connecticut.
"Our goal is to reduce access and discourage use on campus," said Sarah D'Annolfo, Dean of Students at The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, a co-ed boarding school. This year, e-cigarettes fall under the school's drug and alcohol policy. Students caught with an e-cigarette could be suspended for a week and receive a mark on their record. "It definitely sparks conversation within the school community about e-cigarette use and the possible dangers and the possible benefits," D'Annolfo said. "That conversation alone is a hugely important learning opportunity."
The latest Monitoring the Future study, an annual survey of teens, found more teens now use e-cigarettes than traditional tobacco cigarettes, or any other tobacco products.
It was the first national study in the U.S. to show that teen use of e-cigarettes surpasses use of tobacco cigarettes.