By Bree-Anna Finlay
A school principal has criticised as unhealthy and potentially dangerous a new craze among WA schoolchildren of smoking vaporised ‘shisha’ through an electric pen.
The fad involves a so-called ‘joystick’ which uses a small battery-powered element to heat a flavoured liquid which produces a smoke-like vapour.
The Department of Education’s media department advised that they still knew very little about it, other than the fact that St Stephen’s school in Duncraig had been the first to bring it to media attention.
Tony George, the principal of St Stephen’s, said the first instance of the shisha pens at school occurred four weeks ago and that it never became much of an issue as it was only a couple of students reported to be using them.
“We immediately communicated it to parents that the pens are not healthy and not lawful. Parents aren’t always aware of these new fads and it’s our responsibility to alert them,” said Mr George.
“We’ve heard that local markets are selling them for $4 a pen. As with all new fads, they aren’t well regulated and these stall holders take advantage of that and, rather than contributing to society, they are exploiting our community to make money.”
“The manufacturers claim the pens aren’t harmful because they don’t contain nicotine. However they are encouraging smoking behaviours in children, which can then lead them to harder things down the line,” he said.
A representative from smoking paraphernalia store Joynt Venture, who wished to remain anonymous, said they always checked customers’ ID when selling any form of smoking implements.
Internet sites that have these types of products for sale online have no way of knowing the age of their consumers, making it very easy for kids to get their hands on them.
Mr George believes children should have opportunity to succeed and lead healthy lifestyles, rather than be encouraged into bad habits that may set them up for failure.