JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Brandon and Flowood are setting the bar for the rest of Rankin County when it comes to teen vaping.
“We got together and put together an ordinance more-or-less outlawing the possession of vapor pens, vaping devices for kids under the age of 18, and students at our schools under the age of 21,” said Brandon Police Chief William Thompson.
Vaping has proven dangerous, authorities said, and together with school officials they hope to keep Rankin County teenagers from putting themselves at risk.
“Whatever it is that they’re putting in these things, it’s making some of them pass out, it’s making them sick,” Thompson said. “To the point where they have to be admitted to the hospital and nationwide there have been several deaths.”
School administrators and resource officers will be integral in the process, Flowood Police Chief Ricky McMillian said.
“Whenever they come across one of these devices they’ll give us a call," he said. "The deputies will notify Flowood PD and we’ll do all the enforcement action necessary like the youth court complaint and that type of deal.”
The initiative began with a roundtable discussion between Flowood, Brandon, Richland, Pearl, and the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department. The other jurisdictions across Rankin County are expected to follow with their own ordinances in the coming days, the chiefs said.
Hopefully there will even be some legislation to follow if they have anything to do with it, they said.
The reason it’s important? You don’t always know what goes in your vape pen and it could be deadly.
“There are things being delivered to these stores that are selling substances that go into vapor pens and some of it’s legal, but some of the stuff showing up is tested and it’s not legal,” Thompson said.
The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics has been outspokenly against vaping in the past as well, and McMillian said they were right.
“We had fentanyl being sold at different stores and stuff that are actually being used in vapes,” he said.
Currently the vape possession first offense is a fine of $50 and the second offense is $250 plus 60 hours of community service. When the student appears in court, his or her parents are required to attend that and an education course with their child as well.