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Health, Science & Tech

Proposal Would Ban E-Cigs, Vapor Products In Schools

Legislation awaiting action in the Pennsylvania Senate would amend the current school tobacco law to add electronic cigarettes and vapor products to the list of banned items.

House Bill 954, which was unanimously passed in the House on June 15, would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes and vapor products to minors. State Rep. Gerald Mullery (D-Luzerne) added an amendment to ban the use of these items on school grounds.

Mullery said his addition makes a simple yet important change to the current law.

“It adds the term ‘nicotine product’ as a prohibition for use and possession in school or on school property to include school busses. Right now, only the use and possession of tobacco is listed as a violation of the law.”

He said this clarification is necessary because when the current law was enacted in 1996, no one anticipated how much nicotine delivery products would change over the years.

“We’ve seen some tremendous technological advances that seem to be very popular with our youth, and we want to make certain that we’re putting them in an environment to learn that is safe.”

Offenders would be required to pay up to a $50 fine, as well as any court costs, according to Mullery.

“[The money] would go directly to the school district … for them to utilize in programs to educate and inform students about the harms of tobacco use,” he said.

He said the legislation makes an exception for nicotine products intended for helping people quit smoking.

“So if you have a patch, if you have a gum, like a Nicorette would be the one that immediately jumps to my mind, that is helping you to quit and break this habit, then those would be permitted even though they contain a portion of nicotine," he said. "We’re not going to enact a law that would stop somebody from trying to quit.”

The legislation is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee.