Press Releases

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Washington, DC – Today, US Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced The Smoke Free Schools Act of 2018 to help school districts and local education agencies address problems associated with e-cigarette use in schools. The legislation also instructs the FDA to partner with the CDC and Department of Education to study best practices for schools to implement policies to address e-cigarette use among students and gaps in knowledge about the harms of e-cigarette use among youth and young adults. The bill also encourages further research on the dose-response association between e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco, and the current efforts by schools to use federal funding to combat e-cigarette use.

“I am grateful to join Senator Udall in introducing this much-needed legislation,” said Hatch. “This bill will help teachers and school districts address the problems of e-cigarette use in schools and target nicotine addiction among today’s youth. Congress, the FDA, and the Department of Education have made great strides in the past 30 years to discourage teen smoking and nicotine use. Now, it’s important to continue that work in the context of new devices and technologies that have been shown to lead to nicotine addiction among today’s students.”

“I am proud to join Senator Hatch in this important effort because e-cigarettes don’t belong in schools, and harmful chemicals don’t belong in our kids’ lungs,” said Udall. “These products use enticing flavors and stealthy designs to appeal to middle and high school students, fueling nicotine addiction and increasing their risk of tobacco use. This has lured a generation of kids into vaping and driven an epidemic among young people that’s reached truly alarming proportions. We’ve got to put a stop to this crisis – and that starts in our schools. This legislation would ban vaping at schools and enable education agencies to better direct funding toward combatting e-cigarette use. Our kids deserve to be protected from a lifetime of nicotine addiction, and I’m committed to pushing for strong action to safeguard the public health of New Mexico students and their families.”

Statements of Support

The legislation has received support from a wide range of groups, such as The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, The National School Boards Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, National PTA, and The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE).

JoAnn Bartoletti, Executive Director, National Association of Secondary School Principals:

“While the ENDS industry’s profits skyrocket, we all suffer the loss of human potential that results from the damage caused by adolescent nicotine use. NASSP is proud to support this bill on behalf of the nation’s principals, and we welcome the partnership of federal agencies that seek to forestall the growing use of ENDS among our nation’s students.” 

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director and CEO, National School Boards Association

“NSBA thanks Senator Hatch for his efforts to assist school districts in ensuring that students are in safe and supportive learning environments. With the ability to utilize Title IV funding to eradicate the use of e-cigarettes in schools this legislation helps school boards continue implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act.” 

Background

The FDA, CDC, and NIH have all played an instrumental role in identifying the health risks associated with nicotine use and addiction among youth. Their continued research into the risks associated with e-cigarettes and their work to address measures to reduce e-cigarette usage among today’s kids is vital. However, much remains to be done, especially in school settings, where e-cigarette use not only poses a health risk, but can be distracting for other students, difficult for teachers to detect, and result in a less healthy school environment. 

 1) Findings

  • The bill establishes finding supporting the assertion that e-cigarette use has become a public health risk in schools and among youth. The findings discuss the substantial increases in youth smoking in the past few years, as well as the dangers of nicotine addiction for people under the age of 18. 
  • Establishes Congress’ policy-setting role in ensuring tobacco is discouraged to the maximum extent possible.
  • States that local education agencies should be given the greatest flexibility to target specific funding to efforts aimed at eradicating the problem of e-cigarette use. 

2) Prohibits e-cigarettes in schools

  • The bill clarifies the Pro-Children Act of 2001 to state that ENDS, including e-cigarettes, should be included in smoking bans on smoking in educational and childcare facilities.

3) Clarifies that federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) can be used for e-cigarette prevention

  • The bill amends Title IV of ESEA to clarify that e-cigarette prevention is an allowable use of funds to promote safe and healthy schools.

4) Authorizes studies

  • Instructs the FDA to partner with the CDC and the Department of Education to conduct studies of best practices for schools to discourage e-cigarette use.
  • It also instructs the FDA to study gaps in knowledge of the harms of e-cigarettes among adolescents and youth including injuries and poisoning.
  • It seeks further information on the dose-response association between e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco, and the current efforts by schools to use federal funding to combat e-cigarette use.
  • Finally, it instructs the FTC to consider including e-cigarettes in any studies they do relating to the marketing effects of traditional tobacco.

  

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