Due to a growing trend, the Graham Independent School District will add a new rule to the GISD Student Handbook this year — no electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes, also called “e-cigarettes,” are battery-operated devices that generally contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals. The electronic cigarette turns nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. In the state of Texas, only those age 18 and older may purchase an e-cigarette. 

GISD students in secondary schools in grades six through 12 have been spotted using the devices during the 2013-14 school year. Because e-cigarettes are relatively new, their prohibition isn’t currently found in the GISD student code of conduct. 

The guideline, which will be voted on at the next school board meeting, will read: “Prohibited conduct: Possessing, smoking or using tobacco-substitutes or non-tobacco smoking products, including electronic cigarettes or non-tobacco nicotine-delivery products or accessories and any other substance that is intended to or does result in a student’s being ‘under the influence’ of the substance, as that term is defined in this Student Code of Conduct.”

“I know they’re pretty expensive, and I know that we have a few come through the high school,” said Robert Loomis, principal of Graham High School. “(E-cigarattes) came out after we had (the previous student handbook information) in place.”

Graham Junior High School Principal Joe Gordy said that he has seen a few students use e-cigarettes at school.

“They were confiscated at the junior high level, and (we) had a couple more turn up during end-of-the-year locker cleanups,” Gordy said. “We’re fortunate enough to keep it out of the school most of the year. We don’t want our students to be exposed to it, and we want it to stay out because students are here to learn.”

Gordy said that addressing e-cigarettes in the student handbook might help parents stay aware of the issue as well.

“If students choose to break that rule, it will open dialogue...between parents and administrators,” he said. “I think it will make sure we’re all aware. Parents make decisions for their kids and hopefully they’re involved with the students and know what’s going on.”

Read more in Sunday's Graham Leader.