New Law Will Make All Virginia Schools 100pc Free From E-Cigarettes and Tobacco
RICHMOND, Va: A newly signed state law will make all Virginia schools 100pc e-cigarette-free and tobacco-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The law will require all Virginia school boards to implement comprehensive policies prohibiting the use and distribution of all tobacco and nicotine vapor products by students, staff, and visitors at all times on school property and at off-site school sponsored events.
Since 2014, Y Street youth from across the Commonwealth have partnered with 23 school divisions to help their boards adopt 100% comprehensive policies as part of the 24/7 campaign. Their efforts led to more than one-third of Virginia's K-12 student population being protected by such policies, and this new law extends that protection to all of Virginia's youth. Under the new law, school divisions will be required to identify disciplinary actions for staff, students, and visitors that fail to comply, as well as to offer referrals to resources to help individuals overcome tobacco addiction.
As a student who already attends school in a comprehensive division, it means so much to me that the entire state is now become comprehensive, because I hope that all children across Virginia get to experience the same healthy academic environment that I am in every day, said Jessie Wang, a 10th grader and Y Street member at King George High School.
The new law helps schools address recent concerns over electronic cigarettes and vaping. From 2017 to 2018, vaping among teens in the U.S. spiked dramatically, with 3.6 million middle and high school students reporting that they currently use e-cigarettes. With the U.S. Surgeon General declaring e-cigarette use an epidemic, schools and school divisions have been clamoring for resources to protect their students. The new law ensures that all school division policies across Virginia cover current products on the market that may be attractive to youth, such as JUUL devices, as well as potential future products that have not yet hit the market.
To help with the implementation, communication and enforcement of the new policies, the 24/7 campaign will be offering free resources to school divisions across the state. They will provide free signs to help schools comply with the new law and communicate the 100% e-cigarette-free and tobacco-free policy. The campaign will also provide a comprehensive toolkit that contains sample parent letters, ways to respond to challenging questions and other important resources that aid in the implementation, communication and enforcement of the new policies.