JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Action by some Missouri high school students has prompted one lawmaker to push for a vaping ban inside school buildings. The students believe vaping has become an educational hazard.
Many school districts have their own policies when it comes to vaping but some students feel that's not enough.
Students from the Morgan County R-II District and the Nevada R-V School District told lawmakers that vaping is commonplace in their schools. One student testifying in favor of the proposed legislation said his friends vape on a regular basis.
"In the past week alone, I have seen five kids vaping in class; that's in class,” said Lucas Corbin, Nevada High School. “Three kids in after school activities and several vaping after school on their way home."
The Missouri House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education heard Corbin share a very personal reason for why he wants a statewide vaping ban on school property.
"I have a friend that was recently hospitalized because of his excessive use of e-cigarettes a couple of months back,” Corbin said. “He went through about two pods a day skipping class to use the restroom. He even got to a point where he would hide it in his sleeve and just do it in class."
State Representative David Wood (R-Versailles) is sponsoring the legislation and believes when it comes to Missouri's elementary and secondary schools, vaping should be banned from the areas where schools ban smoking.
"To me, one of the most exciting part of this bill, besides it being a very important issue, is the fact that it came from students and it came from schools,” he said.
Some committee members raised questions about the legislation. One member expressed concern the government would be getting involved in an issue parents should be able to address. Another member questioned why the state should restrict vaping instead of sugary drinks, which can lead to health problems. The lawmaker sponsoring the bill stands by his proposed legislation and credited student involvement for making a difference.
"They had the opportunity to see government in action and they followed the process as to what filing a bill was like and what you have to go through and then coming before you and testifying,” Wood said. “I think it's great experience that they will remember for a lifetime."
No one came to the Capitol to testify against the proposed legislation. The vaping industry has maintained its products actually help smokers quit tobacco use and are for adult use only.