By STEPHANIE LEE
KOTA KINABALU: Primary school pupils going to school with electronic cigarettes here have their teachers concerned. The sad part is the parents do not see anything wrong with their children experimenting with the tobacco smoking substitute.
A primary school headmistress in Tanjung Aru disclosed that she couldn't take disciplinary action against the pupils because their parents say e-cigarettes cause no harm.
"These parents say it is no big deal to use them," she claimed.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the headmistress said there was one parent, a teacher, who bought the e-cigarette for her teenage son as he was a smoker, hoping that he would be able to quit the habit by using it.
E-cigarette is an electronic inhaler designed to look like normal cigarettes and meant to stimulate the same as conventional smoking does.
The matter was brought to the school's attention when about eight pupils there were caught buying and selling the items in their classrooms.
The headmistress said she was told that the students, mostly 12-year-olds, smoked the e-cigarettes in groups after school hours within the compound. "We are now seeking clarification from the Education Department on how to handle this," she said, adding that the immediate action was counselling to the parents and pupils involved, and conducting regular spot checks.
"Spot checks are a good method to prevent such incidents from happening in schools but we, as teachers, however, would prefer if there was a proper directive from the Education Department and relevant ministries on how to overcome this problem," she said.
The benefits or health risks of the e-cigarette, which utilises a heating element that vaporises a liquid solution, some which release nicotine or flavoured vapour, are still being discussed by the Government and Health Ministry over whether to ban its sales.
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