Public, private schools become tobacco-free Thursday

Public, private schools become tobacco-free Thursday

LAWTON, Okla._Starting August 20, 2015, all Oklahoma public and private schools will be tobacco-free.

The new law will also prohibit anyone from using tobacco in school vehicles and at any school-sponsored or school-sanctioned event or activity, including sporting events. House Bill 1685, also known as the 24/7 Tobacco-Free Schools Act, provides around-the-clock protection from the dangers of tobacco use.

"Tobacco products are the leading cause of preventable death in the state of Oklahoma," said Governor Mary Fallin. "A lot of tobacco users first form the habit by being around other tobacco users, including friends and parents, when they are young. This new law pushes tobacco off our school campuses and ensures our children aren't picking up an unhealthy and potentially deadly habit in the very places that should be helping them develop healthy minds and bodies."

Although e-cigarettes and vapor products are not covered in the new law, schools are encouraged to include those products in their tobacco-free policies. Already, 246 school districts have implemented a ban on e-cigarettes and vapor products, which can mimic conventional cigarettes.

"Our children learn behaviors by watching those around them," said Dr. Terry Cline, Cabinet secretary of health and human services and Oklahoma State Department of Health commissioner.  "The 24/7 Tobacco-Free Schools Act will help prevent Oklahoma's youth from becoming tobacco's next victims."

Each year, approximately 17,900 children in Oklahoma try smoking for the first time.