A bill that would ban the use of tobacco products on public school grounds across the state is making a last-minute bid in the Kentucky legislature after being stalled for weeks.
House Bill 11 would ban students, employees and volunteers from using any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, on school property or during school events.
Rep. Kim Moser, a Republican from Taylor Mill and sponsor of the bill, said that school districts can vote to “opt out” of the ban.
“This bill would be a local option. The provisions in this bill will be implemented and enforced by the local school board, because they know what works best in their communities,” Moser said.
Moser said she filed the bill in response to an uptick in teen smoking and vaping among middle and high schoolers.
The bill passed out of the state House of Representatives on Tuesday, the fourth-to-last working day for lawmakers during this year’s legislative session.
The action came after more than a month after it unanimously passed out the House Health and Welfare Committee.
In order to advance to Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk, it would still have to pass out of another committee and a full Senate vote.
Rep. Lynn Bechler, a Republican from Marion, said the policy is unnecessary because school boards can already implement smoke-free policies.
“School districts should have to take a stand,” Bechler said. “If these school districts believe that implementing such a policy is the right thing to do, they have the ability to do that. They should not try and hide behind what the General Assembly says.”
Currently, 74 of Kentucky’s 173 school districts have policies banning tobacco use.
Terry Brooks, executive director for Kentucky Youth Advocates, applauded the passage of the bill.
“Prohibiting tobacco use creates an environment where smoking cigarettes and e-cigs is not the norm, reduces teen tobacco use, and provides positive adult role modeling,” Brooks said in a statement.