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DHS news release

Dec. 28, 2005

 

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg, DHS (971) 673-1282
Technical contacts: Mel Kohn, M.D., DHS (971) 673-0982; Gene Evans, Oregon Dept. of Education (503) 378-3600, ext. 2237

 

New statewide school policy protects kids from health risks of tobacco; helps reduce number of new youth smokers

 


 

(Note: The text of the administrative rule follows this release.)

 

A new mandatory policy that takes effect on Jan. 1 prohibits students, staff and visitors from using any tobacco product at any time on school property in Oregon.

 

Public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) said the new policy marks an important step toward protecting Oregon kids from the health risks of tobacco.

 

"Every day in Oregon 20 kids start smoking. One-third of them will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease," said Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist in DHS. "Most adult smokers started using tobacco before they turned 18, which underscores the significance of this new policy."

 

Kohn estimates that about 6,700 Oregon children under 18 become new smokers each year. Research conducted in the state shows that 17 percent of 11th graders and 10 percent of 8th graders have smoked in the past 30 days.

 

"With this new policy, all of us--school staff, visitors and parents--are helping build a healthier environment for Oregon's youth," said Nikki Squire, chair of the Oregon Board of Education, which passed a rule in May 2004 that requires schools to be tobacco-free. "This puts what students are learning about tobacco in the classroom into practice."

 

Kohn said that tobacco-free school policies are an important tool in keeping kids away from tobacco and the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

 

"The idea that tobacco use is normal and that it is socially acceptable because respected adults and others do it encourages kids to pick up the habit," said Kohn. "Tobacco-free school policies are helping change the perception that smoking and chew are okay."

 

Kohn said that the next step for each district in Oregon is to adopt the policy set by the State Board of Education.  "In fact, many school districts are working to adopt policies that go beyond the statewide rule, such as implementing curriculum on avoiding tobacco use, banning all tobacco advertising, tobacco-related clothing, gear and paraphernalia in school buildings," he said.

 

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OAR 581-021-0110. Tobacco-Free Schools

1.) For the purposes of this rule "tobacco" is defined to include any lighted or unlighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, bidi, clove cigarette, and any other smoking product, and spit tobacco, also known as smokeless, dip, chew, and snuff, in any form.

2.) No student, staff member, or school visitor is permitted to smoke, inhale, dip, or chew, or sell tobacco at any time, including non-school hours:

a. in any building, facility, or vehicle owned, leased, rented, or chartered by the school district, school, or public charter school; or
b. on school grounds, athletic grounds, or parking lots.

3.) No student is permitted to possess a tobacco product:

a. in any building, facility, or vehicle owned, leased, rented, or chartered by the school district, school, or public charter school; or
b. on school grounds, athletic grounds, or parking lots.

4.) By January 1, 2006, school districts must establish policies and procedures to implement and enforce this rule for students, staff and visitors.