A bill that would ban tobacco products and vaping in Kentucky public schools passed through a state House Committee Thursday.
Republican Rep. Kim Moser from Taylor Mill is sponsor of the measure. She said the ban would send a message to students.
“I think that it’s very important that we set certain expectations for our students and stop normalizing tobacco use,” Moser said during the hearing.
The measure would ban vaping and tobacco products not only inside schools, but also on school property like sports fields and on school trips. If the bill becomes law, individual school districts would have until July 2020 to implement. Enforcement would also be up to school boards, though the bill does say that school employees would be required to enforce the policy.
The bill passed out of the House Health and Family Services committee and now heads to the full House for a vote.
Franklin County Superintendent Mark Kopp spoke at Thursday’s hearing. He said his district adopted a similar ban in 2011.
“We saw a very large decrease in the percentage of tobacco usage over the last several years,” Kopp said. “It has been one of the best things … giving us teeth to be able to build into our discipline policy the ability to take action when we do find someone who’s using a JUUL [vaping product].”
The measure has the backing of public health advocacy groups like the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the Kentucky Cancer Foundation. The Kentucky School Boards Association also supports the bill. Moser said the measure also has support of the tobacco and vaping industry.
Investigations last year by The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission found vaping companies were marketing to teens.
Juul Labs, which controls about 70 percent of the e-cigarette market, announced in November that it would stop selling flavored vaping pods in retail stores and that it would stop social media marketing. That came right before the federal government passed several measures to stop teens from using the devices.
About 57 percent of Kentucky public school students attend schools that already have a smoke-free policy. In 2017, a little more than 14 percent of Kentucky high schoolers reported smoking traditional cigarettes. About the same number reported vaping.
Teens who use e-cigarettes and other cigarette alternatives are nearly twice as likely to later smoke traditional cigarettes, compared to teens who never use those alternatives. That’s according toresearch published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The use of e-cigarettes is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke, according to research that is scheduled to be presented Feb. 6 at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in Honolulu.
Concern around the health effects of e-cigarette use has grown in recent years, fueled by a surge in their popularity and a belief that they're safe alternatives to normal cigarettes.
Members of the Murray City Council are considering implementing a smoke-free ordinance. The Public Safety Committee met Thursday afternoon to discuss whether to draft such an ordinance and how strict the ordinance should be.
"I'd like to see the whole city be smoke-free," said Murray Mayor Jack Rose.
In 2014, about one in four teens nationwide reported smoking an e-cigarette, which are lauded y the vaping industry as a safer alternative to cigarettes. But the Food ad Drug Administration is looking at potentially limiting or banning of these e-cigarette flavors.
After a series of "mishaps," the Navy says it will no longer allow sailors to bring electronic cigarettes onto its ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, craft and heavy equipment.
"The prohibition applies to Sailors, Marines, Military Sealift Command civilians and any personnel working on or visiting those units," according to a statement obtained by NPR's Sarah McCammon, issued by the commanders of the U.S. Fleet Forces and the U.S. Pacific Fleet.