Farmington city officials on Monday added e-cigarettes and “vape” products to an ordinance that bans the sale of tobacco products to minors.
The ordinance amendment prohibits minors from possessing “nicotine products” and bans vaping on school property. Following discussion at previous meetings, council members raised the proposed local fine for violating the ordinance from $50 to $250.
While federal law prohibits selling vape products to minors, a state law is still in the works. Demers said that while vaping in a growing problem in schools, students have faced only in-school punishment when caught with e-cigarettes.
Use of the devices, which deliver a hit of nicotine in vaporized “juice”, has grown in Farmington schools and across the country.
“It interferes with the learning environment,” Demers said. “I’m continually hearing reports from our School Resource Officer about the bathrooms being the go-to place to use vape products.”
Demers said the fine provides some “teeth” to enforcement for repeat offenders, but the goal with students is not to keep issuing citations.
“With this ordinance, it’s not our intention to issue ticket after ticket,” he said. “I see this being used as leverage to get these kids into a program that explains the dangers of vaping.”
Mayor Pro Tem Sara Bowman asked how the new rules would be communicated; Demers said there’s a plan to roll out information, developed with the district’s PTA (Parent Teacher Association). Bowman also suggested changes to existing tobacco-free zone signs.
Under the new rules, Demers said, tobacco enforcement “stings” using underage decoys will now include vape shops. In addition to ticketing business caught violating the law, the department notifies state and federal officials.
Farmington’s law only affects the two schools located within the city’s boundaries: Longacre Elementary and Farmington High School. Demers said Farmington Hills is working on a similar ordinance, which would cover all buildings in the district.