With the rise and prevalence of new tobacco and nicotine products among students world-wide, Pennsylvania school districts have looked for creative ways to better educate and protect their students from the harmful effects. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania law addressing the issue has been slow to the race. While school districts have had the authority to prohibit tobacco and nicotine devices on their campuses, school districts have had no real enforcement mechanism against students and adults that use non-tobacco products, such as the popular Juul or Vape.
On November 27, 2019, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 97 into law. Among other things, House Bill 97 redefines “tobacco product” under 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6306.1, the enforcement mechanism for school districts to use against students and adults using tobacco products on school property. Beginning January 26, 2020, school districts will now have the authority to have summary citations issued against students and adults possessing nicotine delivery products, such as the Juul or Vape, while on school property.
Within the next forty (40) days, school districts should take a look at their Board Policies to ensure the administration will have proper authority to enact the new prohibition. While more than one Board policy addresses tobacco use, Board Policy 222 – Tobacco Use will be the most important to modernize. Specifically, we recommend school districts look at the authorization to issue summary citation section and ensure the policy is written broadly enough to cover Juuls, Vapes, and other nicotine delivery devices. The School Law Practice Group at Stock and Leader monitors developments in all areas of school law. Please contact us with any questions or concerns regarding new updates to Board Policies or other areas of school law.