FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The use of vaping and tobacco products would be outlawed at Kentucky public schools under a bill that cleared the House Health and Family Services committee Thursday.
House Bill 11, sponsored by House Health and Family Services Committee Chair Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser, R-Taylor Mill, would prohibit students, school personnel and visitors from vaping, smoking or using any tobacco product on public school campuses, in school vehicles or at school activities starting with the 2020-21 school year.
Forty-two percent of Kentucky schools already prohibit use of tobacco and e-cigarette products on their campuses and that policy “should now be extended statewide,” said Moser.
“I do think that it’s very important that we set certain expectations and set an example for our students, as you stated, and stop normalizing tobacco use,” Moser told a panel of health advocates testifying in favor of HB 11.
The bill, which would only outlaw use—not possession—of such products on school campuses and at school events has the support of the Kentucky School Boards Association and the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, said Moser. Enforcement of the law will be up to local school boards, per the bill.
Also supporting the bill, Moser said, is the tobacco industry and e-cigarette company JUUL.
“They are both behind this bill in eliminating tobacco use on school campuses,” Moser added.
Research shows that e-cigarettes and vaping products are addictive and encourage young people to become smokers later on, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Vice President for External Affairs Bonnie Hackbarth told the committee. “Remember, they’re addicted,” Hackbarth said.
Her comments were backed up by Paducah cardiologist Dr. Pat Withrow, who told the panel that e-cigarettes and vaping devices like JUUL pod mods are “full of nicotine.”
“The cool factor gets them to pay attention to it; the smooth flavor gets them to try it,” he said.
One in five high school students currently use e-cigarettes in the U.S., according to Moser. In 2018, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration released a statement that called youth e-cigarette use an “epidemic.”
HB 11 now goes to the full House for its consideration.