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Vape ban in Kentucky schools closer to reality

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(The Center Square) – Vaping in public schools is closer to being banned after Tuesday’s unanimous passage by the Education Committee of the Kentucky House of Representatives.

All tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products in the state’s public schools would be banned, under House Bill 142. Districts would be required to adopt disciplinary procedures for violators. It would also collect information to test the ban’s effectiveness.

“It outlines a mechanism for reporting to the Kentucky Department of Education on a yearly basis so that we can track the progress and see how effective this is in the future,” said Rep. Mark Hart, R-Falmouth.

Hart said the goal is to give districts “some teeth” to enforce vaping policies.

Schools would be required to confiscate any tobacco, alternative nicotine or vape products in a student’s possession. On the student’s second or third offense, students would be required to serve either an in-school or out-of-school suspension.

Rep. Tina Bojanowski, D-Louisville, supported the ban but thought suspensions wouldn’t stop students from vaping.

Hart said a floor amendment is expected that would address alternative schools and other program options.

Master Sgt. Brian Melton – a Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps instructor at Pendleton County High School – testified on the severity of the vaping issue in public schools.

“It is speculated that more than 5.6 million youth will face premature death because of vaping, according to the CDC,” Melton said. “It’s something that we obviously need to take a firm stance on here in our great state of Kentucky.”

Hart also said legislation is in the works to address penalties for retailers who sell vaping and other nicotine or tobacco products to minors.

“We didn’t want to create a bill that seemed like we were trying to punish kids when we’re trying to deter kids,” Hart added.

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