Mullery bill to ban nicotine products in Pa. schools advances

HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery’s bill that would ban nicotine-based products and electronic cigarettes in Pennsylvania schools was unanimously voted out of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

Under House Bill 2268, e-cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chewing tobacco and other nicotine products would be banned from schools. Cigarette smoking is already prohibited on school grounds.

“Our school grounds are places that should put young people on the right path in life,” said Mullery, D-Newport Township. “We should make every effort to deter the development of destructive habits and promote healthy lifestyle choices at our learning institutions.”

Mullery's legislation was prompted after multiple discussions with school resource officers and teachers concerned with the rapidly growing population of young students using e-cigarettes and JUULs.

Every day in the United States, about 2,300 children try their first cigarette and another 350 become regular daily smokers, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. And, in recent years, the use of other nicotine-based products, such as electronic cigarettes, has increased such that today nearly three in five high school students use e-cigarettes, according to the U.S. surgeon general.

Ninety percent of adult smokers picked up the habit as teenagers when they were most susceptible to addiction and in a critical period of growth and brain development.

“Reducing the number of children and teens who smoke is vital, not only for their individual development, but also for public health,” Mullery said.

For every one percentage-point decline in the smoking rate, the public, private and individual healthcare costs in the United States would drop an estimated $98 million annually, thanks to fewer smoking-related heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, annual spending on smoking-related births and complications would drop nearly $80 million per year.

Mullery said many of the nicotine products available today are colorful and attractive to young people. He said some of these products look, smell and taste like mints, gum and other candy.

Under Mullery’s bill, violations would be punishable as a summary offense with a fine not to exceed $50.

The bill may now be considered by the full House of Representatives.