New Virginia law takes aim at tobacco and nicotine

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — A new law in Virginia is taking aim at tobacco and nicotine.

The law, which Governor Ralph Northam signed this week, expands a tobacco ban in schools. It bans e-cigarettes and vapes and widens the existing ban to a broader range of school property and activities.

Rockingham County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Oskar Scheikl said he is worried about the devices.

"It's a health concern more than anything," Dr. Scheikl said. "We want to make sure that we keep our students safe and healthy."

American teens are using the devices at an increasing rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"These devices are made to look like something else," Dr. Scheikl said.

They are very small and can look like USB drives, which makes it very difficult for teachers to spot.

The ban is a step in the right direction in Dr. Schiekl's opinion. But he said tackling the problem requires more thought than bans and resulting suspensions if students use them in school.

"What's a student going to do if they're home for three days if they were caught vaping at school? It's not like they are going to sit at home and stay off this stuff," Dr. Scheikl said. "They now have three days to vape at home."

Dr. Scheikl said it will require education, like partnering with Sentara RMH, to teach students the dangers of the tobacco and nicotine.