OKLAHOMA CITY — The Senate Education Committee passed a bill Tuesday that would prohibit vaping in schools.
Senate Bill 33, by Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, now goes to the Senate floor for consideration after being advanced by the panel on a 14-0 vote.
Vaping involves inhaling a vapor created by the heating of infused liquid in a small, battery-powered tank. Many such products contain nicotine.
Dossett said vaping is more common than not and serves as a new nicotine delivery system for youths.
“This is a health crisis among our teens,” he said.
Most districts already ban vaping on campus, but Dossett said the prohibition needs to be elevated into state law.
Dossett said the industry does not oppose the measure.
“In all their marketing and in all the information they put out, it is for tobacco cessation or for adults to use,” Dossett said. “It is not for kids. Out front — they are definitely for this legislation. I was not totally surprised, because no one can really come out and say we are for selling nicotine products to kids.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development.
“Nicotine has been proven to be negative for brain development,” Dossett said. “I think we need to be more proactive like we did with cigarettes, like we did with tobacco, and say we need to keep these things out of kids’ hands every chance we get.”
Vaping devices should be treated like cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, he said.
Those who use the devices may be more likely to smoke, according to the CDC.
Julie Bisbee, interim executive director of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, said the prohibition would also apply to adults attending school-sanctioned events.
She said there has been an “alarming” increase in the number of teenagers using vaping devices.
Five-year teacher contracts: In other action, the Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would allow school districts to offer five-year contracts to teachers.
Senate Bill 63 passed by a vote of 12-3 and heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.
Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, said the measure would help districts recruit teachers in areas such as science, technology, engineering, math and special education.
The measure would be voluntary, he said.
He said he would offer an amendment to reduce the contract to three years and make some exemptions in the area of extracurricular activities, such as sports.
Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, voted against the measure.
She questioned whom the measure would benefit.
“If a teacher is effective, they have job security,” she said.