Drug Testing: Checking High Schoolers for Tobacco

Drug Testing: Checking High Schoolers for Tobacco
Posted by CN Staff on October 07, 2002 at 17:10:02 PT
By Greg Giuffrida, Associated Press Writer
Source: Associated Press
Breath mints won't cut it anymore for students who have been smoking in the bathroom -- some schools around the country are administering urine tests to teenagers to find out whether they have been using tobacco. Opponents say such testing violates students' rights and can keep them out of the extracurricular activities they need to stay on track. But some advocates say smoking in the boys' room is a ticket to more serious drug use.
"Some addicted drug users look back to cigarettes as the start of it all," said Jeff McAlpin, director of marketing for EDPM, a Birmingham drug-testing company. Short of catching them in the act, school officials previously had no way of proving students had been smoking. Testing students for drugs has spread in recent years and was given a boost in June when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed random testing of those in extracurricular activities. Tobacco can easily be added to the usual battery of tests. "I agree with it," said 16-year-old Vestavia Hills High School junior Rosemary Stafford, a member of the marching band. "It's illegal, it's addictive. Maybe the punishment shouldn't be as severe, but they should test for it." In Alabama, where the legal age for purchasing and smoking tobacco products is 19, about a dozen districts, mostly in the Birmingham area, test for nicotine along with alcohol and several illegal drugs, including marijuana. In most cases, the penalties for testing positive for cotinine -- a metabolic byproduct that remains in the body after smoking or chewing tobacco -- are the same as those for illegal drugs: The student's parents are notified and he or she is usually placed on school probation and briefly suspended from sports or other activities. Alabama's Hoover school system randomly tested 679 of its 1,500 athletes for drug use this past school year. Fourteen high school students tested positive, 12 of them for tobacco. Elsewhere around the country, schools in Blackford County, Ind., test for tobacco use in athletes, participants in other extracurricular activities, and students who take driver's education or apply for parking permits. In Lockney, Texas, a federal judge recently struck down the district's testing of all students for the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. In Columbia County, Fla., the school board will vote Tuesday on a testing policy that would include tobacco. Teenagers who take part in extracurricular activities or apply for permits to drive to school would be screened. "Tobacco does and will affect a larger majority of the students than alcohol or drugs," said Gloria Spizey, the county's coordinator for Safe and Drug-Free Schools. "Tobacco use can be devastating. We felt it needed to stand with the other drugs." Screenings can detect cotinine for up to 10 days in regular smokers of about a half a pack, or 10 cigarettes, a day, McAlpin said. Experts say it is unlikely that cotinine would collect in people exposed to secondhand smoke. "Tobacco is illegal for them to have -- it's also a health and safety issue," said Phil Hastings, supervisor of safety and alternative education for schools in Decatur, which recently adopted a testing program that includes tobacco. "We've got a responsibility to let the kids know the dangers of tobacco use." While random drug testing overall is being fought by the American Civil Liberties Union and students' rights groups, the addition of nicotine testing has drawn little opposition. Guidelines published last month by the White House drug office do not specifically address tobacco testing. "On tobacco, we have the same policy as on testing for drugs -- it may not be right for every school and community," said Jennifer de Vallance, press secretary for the office. "We encourage parents and officials to assess the extent and nature of the tobacco problem." Shawn Heller, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy in Washington, said tobacco use by teen-agers is a major problem, but testing for it is just another step in the invasion of students' privacy. "We're making schools like prisons," he said. Complete Title: New Frontier in Random Drug Testing: Checking High Schoolers for Tobacco Source: Associated Press Author: Greg Giuffrida, Associated Press WriterPublished: Monday, October 7, 2002 Copyright: 2002 Associated Press SSDP Drug Testing Archives
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Comment #5 posted by Prime on October 08, 2002 at 00:59:37 PT
Holy Cat Farts Batman...
GCW, thats unbelievable. I seeth with anger after reading articles like that. An experience like that would surely set me over the edge. Phooch waiting for a class action suits. Thats when you start finding home addresses, and getting medevil. They want a revolution? Let the bodies hit the floor.
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on October 07, 2002 at 20:19:52 PT
It is happening now. Read on: Inside account of mass illegal arrests in Washington DC by Doug Malkan, summitfreepress.com September 27, 2002 hundreds of people were "pre-emptively" arrested in downtown Washington DC for having a peaceful gathering at a park to rally against corporate power and war. This is an inside story of gross violations of civil rights and brutal treatment of hundreds of innocent people by the police in our nation's capital. The term pre-emptive is a new term for law enforcement which had rarely if ever been heard of before. It means arresting a person who has not committed a crime, but that might commit a crime. The arrest and incarceration of citizens who have not committed a crime is suppose to be illegal and unconstitutional. But a new strategy which is just beginning is apparently taken from a page out of the Bush Administration's new strategy toward suspected terrorists, except now it is being applied to peaceful demonstrations, protests and now even gatherings. Cont...[Backround. This guy Doug, was getting petitions signed in Frisco, Colorado, to keep a golf course from being built. The police told him He could not work the area at the post office. Somehow the American Civil Liberties Union found out and flew Him to D.C. to testify in some court about it... and that is when He was at the park and got caged,...]You would imagine, He is getting a foul taste in His mouth.
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Comment #3 posted by Prime on October 07, 2002 at 19:38:16 PT
Illegal thoughts...
I often think of Columbine. Wouldnt it be great if we could just get inside these kid's heads and figure out what they are thinking. Then we could arrest them all before they actually commit any crimes.Hmmm... is there any way to test for illegal thought?Ok maybe not. But why not just give every kid a random polygraph every semester. Answer a question wrong? DING. Off to the GWBush/JPWaters Correctional Institute for the Newly Criminalized.As if we dont have enough to worry about in this country. 
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on October 07, 2002 at 19:07:31 PT
Backfire? Is cannabis too valuable to give back?
As We argue that cannabis is safer than booze and cigs, and the mighty think too much of cannabis prohibition, they will recall cigs and booze, before they give Us back the superplant.The superplant has big medicine implications, textile and fuel implications, etc.But, the superplant also has some eternal properties that far out reach the others potential. There is more to hoard, than the fuel, medicine etc. and it has been Biblical in the past and it is in the present.Cannabis IS the Kahuna of the plant kingdom.
The prohibition of cannabis, may well be the original living sin.
Cannabis prohibition is a very serious crime. Don't believe it, just ask the new teacher, The Holy Spirit of Truth, for Your self.Speak out. Stop caging humans for using a plant.And You can be a green collar worker too.The Green Collar Workers United 420.If You control Your dog, then more should You control vicious prohibitionists.
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Comment #1 posted by Dark Star on October 07, 2002 at 18:31:23 PT
1984, a Little Late
I detest tobacco. However, this type of policy is enriching an insidious industry that is eroding our freedom. It is creating an increasing cynicism among youth that will lead to a terrible backlash at some point. Fascism is no longer creeping, it is in a full sprint now.
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