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Students Smoking in School

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Among the students here at NMHS, there have been many complaints about students smoking in the school bathrooms. It is prohibited, but as long as students don’t get caught, then it will continue to happen. Smoking outside of school is one thing, but once you do it inside, it is a whole new situation.

The current problem with the girls’ bathrooms at New Milford High School is that they aren’t the most up to date to begin with, so smoking in them doesn’t make things better. It seems as though there is always something wrong, whether there is a hole in the ceiling, no soap in the dispensers, or bathrooms that  smell because of inconsiderate students. Smoking in the bathroom affects students who hate smoking and students who aren’t used to being surrounded by it, as well as students who have upper respiratory issues, such as asthma. Also, students who smoke can influence other students to start smoking, including younger students such as freshmen.

A few female students who have confirmed that they have done it before said that they continue to because they “haven’t been caught”. When asked why she smokes in the bathroom, one sophomore student replied, “because I don’t care about school and I do whatever I want.” Other students complained about one smoker because the smoke reeked and traveled with her into her next classroom, even though she wasn’t the one smoking.  Another freshman, who had class with the female smoker, stated that she smelled like cigarettes. 

Another student decided to smoke in the bathroom because she doesn’t want to get caught leaving the school and not being able to get back in. Students will say, “[…]will let me back in he loves me”, but in reality, this is simply not the case. Many students who aren’t seniors try to get away with leaving the school for a few minutes to get their nicotine fix, which some get away with due to luck. They continue to do it because they aren’t caught, so there are no repercussions. Furthermore, many students are not phased by detentions, which means those who don’t get caught will continue to do it.

Smoking cigarettes affects teens in a negative way every day. According to the Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine, about two-thirds of teen smokers say they want to quit smoking, and 70% say they would not have started if they could choose again.

The World Health Organization states that of the effects of smoking on teens, smoking hurts young people’s physical fitness in terms of both performance and endurance — even among young people trained in competitive running. On average, someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes each day lives seven years less than someone who never smokes. Teens who smoke are three times more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and twenty-two times more likely to use cocaine.

Smoking is also associated with other risky behaviors, such as fighting and engaging in unprotected sex. An article in Teens Health says people start smoking for a variety of reasons. Some think it looks cool. Others start because their family members or friends smoke. Statistics show that many tobacco users start before they’re 18 years old.

Mark Wheeler from UCLA Newsroom wrote an article on teens smoking and he says, “…in the study, 25 smokers and non-smokers between the ages of 15 and 21 were asked to perform a test that activated the prefrontal cortex and required them to inhibit responding…. The results of the tests, London said, were interesting  — and surprising. Among smokers, the researchers found that the higher the HSI — that is, the more a teen smoked  — the lesser the activity in the prefrontal cortex. And yet, despite these lower levels of activation, the smoking group and the non-smoking group preformed roughly the same with respect to inhibition on the Stop-Signal Task.”

The minimum age of smokers was 16 years prior to 1994, but as of today their is no minimum age reported for teens smoking. It is illegal to sell or supply tobacco to minors and they aren’t allowed to consume tobacco in any public place. One thing to consider is that minors still won’t get in trouble for smoking, only the people selling to the minor will.

The NMHS student handbook (which all students receive on the first day of school) lists the rules for many important prohibited activities, and included are the repercussions for what happens to those students smoking on school grounds. The punishment for getting caught smoking on school property is that for the first time being caught there is a one day in-school-suspension (with referral to Municipal Court for a possible fine). The second time being caught there is a two day out-of-school-suspension (with referral to Municipal Court for a possible fine). For the third time being caught there is a multiple day out-of-school suspension (with referral to Municipal Court for a possible fine).

In an interview with Mr. Jerry Perrone, NMHS’s Vice Principal, we asked him questions about the school and restraints on students smoking around school. Regarding whether or not anyone had been caught smoking on school property this year, he said that no one has been reported this year or found to be smoking, but in the past if a student was reported or found on school property it could lead to suspension, and is a referral to the Municipal Court that could lead to a fine, and then it gets reported to the School Resource Officer, Officer Bill Wilde.

When asked how he believes that smoking on school property impacts other students, Mr. Perrone says, “People see it which then takes away from the academic environment…It’s important to note that this is a two sided situation, too. If something is going on that people see, students can report it and then we can address the situation also. It’s difficult for two or three people in a building to really see everything, especially if it’s happening in a part of a building were they are’t necessarily present during the day. It’s important, too, as a school community for students and staff to report such things. If you’re feeling strongly about the issues, come forward and discuss it, so we can find a solution to it.”

To fix these situations from continuing to happen, the staff and administration should keep a closer eye on students bringing cigarettes or any other drug into our school. Another solution rests with the students – if you see something going on that you disagree with or is impacting your health and/or education, let the administration know so that they may handle it appropriately.

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The student news site of New Milford High School, New Milford, New Jersey
Students Smoking in School