FRANKFORT, Ky. — The use of tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaping devices would be banned at public schools — unless school districts opt out of the ban — under a bill that has passed the Kentucky House.
School districts would have up to three years after the bill takes effect, should it become law, to opt out of the ban under House Bill 11, sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser, R-Taylor Mill. The bill cleared the House today on an 85-11 vote.
For school districts that don’t opt out of the legislation, HB 11 would specifically prohibit students from using e-cigarettes, vaping products or any tobacco product on public school campuses, in school vehicles, or at school activities starting with the 2020-21 school year. School employees, volunteers or visitors would also be prohibited from using those products on school property, or on school trips while in the presence of students.
HB 11’s purpose “is to eliminate tobacco use during school hours and at after-school events in order to create an environment where tobacco use is not the norm. This would include the use of e-cigarettes and vaping,” said Moser.
Those who violate restrictions on the use of tobacco, e-cigarette or vaping products on school grounds as proposed by HB 11 would face up to $5 in fines—the same amount of fines allowable by current law for those who smoke tobacco illegally on school property.
HB 11 will not prohibit possession of tobacco, e-cigarette or vaping products on school property, according to Moser.
Moser told her colleagues that the U.S. Surgeon General and National Institute on Drug Abuse “has called the use of electronic cigarettes ‘the biggest health crisis in the nation affecting youth.’” One in five U.S. high school students and one in 20 U.S. middle schoolers are using e-cigarettes according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she said.
Supporting the bill was Rep. Cluster Howard, D-Jackson. Howard said his home region of Eastern Kentucky has a high rate of tobacco use, heart-related disease and opioid abuse.
“All of us know that tobacco use and alcohol are gateway drugs,” Howard said. “Anything we can do to address that will help us.”
HB 11 now goes to the Senate for its consideration.