SOPHE Supports Smoke-Free Schools Act of 2019

June 13, 2019
SOPHE Supports Smoke-Free Schools Act of 2019
New legislation introduced to ban e-cigarette use in schools
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced The Smoke-Free Schools Act of 2019 to help school districts and local education agencies address the surge of e-cigarettes in schools.
The legislation would ban e-cigarette use in educational and childcare facilities and lays out findings to support the conclusion that e-cigarette use in schools and among youth has reached the level of a public health epidemic.

The use of e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) has increased at an alarming rate in schools and among today’s youth. More than three million middle and high-schoolers use e-cigarettes today, and from 2017 – 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded a nearly 48 percent increase in e-cigarette use among middle schoolers and a nearly 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high schoolers.

The problem is even more acute in New Mexico, where 24.7 percent of high school students have used e-cigarettes-higher than the 13.2 percent of high school students nationally who had used the devices.

The legislation has received support from a wide range of groups, The National School Boards Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Parent Teacher Association, The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, School Superintendents Association, National Association of Elementary School Principals, American Lung Association, New Mexico PTA and SOPHE.

“Although many teens use e-cigarettes because they think they are cool, the facts show they present a major health hazard,” said Elaine Auld, MPH, MCHES®, Chief Executive Officer of the Society for Public Health Education. “Schools have a vital role to play in educating students about good health habits, and banning e-cigarettes in these educational settings gets at the heart of prevention.”

The Smoke-Free Schools Act of 2019 would:
Prohibit e-cigarettes in schools:
  • The bill clarifies the Pro-Children Act of 2001 to state that e-cigarettes and other ENDS should be included in smoking bans on smoking in educational and childcare facilities.
Establish findings:
  • The bill establishes findings supporting the assertion that e-cigarette use has become a public health epidemic 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.
  • Highlights Congress’s policy-setting role in ensuring youth tobacco is discouraged to the maximum extent possible.

The full text of the legislation and a one-page summary of the bill are available.

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Contact: Cicily Hampton, PhD, MPA | 202.408.9804 | champton@sophe.org