Wednesday, May 6, 2015
OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin today signed House Bill 1685, requiring all Oklahoma schools to be tobacco-free. The bill is known as the "24/7 Tobacco-Free Schools Act".
Tobacco use of any kind will not be allowed on school grounds and the use of a tobacco product will also be prohibited in school vehicles, and at any school-sponsored or school-sanctioned event or activity.
Many Oklahoma schools have banned tobacco products voluntarily, but HB1965 will make sure that all children will be protected.Prohibiting tobacco use at all times on school grounds protects them from exposure and reinforces for them that most people do not use tobacco products.
“This is a common-sense measure that will reduce tobacco’s influence on our children,” said Fallin. “It is encouraging that 83 percent of Oklahoma’s students already attend schools where tobacco is banned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This bill will protect the remaining 17 percent by ensuring they are no longer exposed to cigarettes and other tobacco products when they are at school.”
Seventy-five hundred Oklahomans die each year from smoking and tobacco use costs Oklahomans over $3.7 billion annually in medical expenses and lost productivity. In addition to the health consequences of smoking, research shows that tobacco use affects student attendance and academic performance.
“Tobacco use is still the number one preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. A tobacco-free environment is fundamental in any school effort designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use in young people,” said Dr. Terry Cline, Commissioner of Health and Cabinet Secretary of Health and Human Services. “I am confident that this bill and our continued efforts to stop tobacco use will save thousands of lives that would have otherwise been shortened by the effects of tobacco.”
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has worked with many organizations to reduce use of tobacco among students and many were represented during the signing event, including members of Students Working Against Tobacco from Norman schools, representatives of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) and other local and state organizations.
The bill was authored by House Speaker Pro Tem Lee Denney and State Senator Jim Halligan.
Governor Mary Fallin signs HB 1685. She is joined by legislators, medical professionals, tobacco cessation groups and Norman High School students with Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT).