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Virginia school tobacco ban goes into effect

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A Virginia law that prohibits smoking or using or transferring tobacco on school property and at off-site school events has gone into effect this school year.

The bipartisan legislation was signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam earlier this year. It will require that all school boards create policies that will prohibit the use and transfer of tobacco products and nicotine vapor on all school property and off-site school events. This prohibition affects students, non-students and adults.

The school boards will also be required to update their student code of conduct to reference the prohibition of such products if the school boards do not already prohibit it. Previous laws only required that smoking be prohibited in school buildings and on school buses, but other regulations were the school board’s choice.

“The recent and dramatic rise in youth smoking and vaping represents a serious public health crisis that requires our attention and action,” Northam said in a news release when he signed the legislation in March.

“We have a responsibility to prevent our children from being exposed to all types of tobacco or nicotine-containing products – as state senator, I led the successful, bipartisan effort to enact a statewide smoking ban in our bars and restaurants, and as governor I am proud to sign this legislation that will make Virginia schools and communities safer and healthier,” he said.

The commonwealth also raised the age for purchasing and using tobacco products to 21 years old earlier this year as a way to help curb teenage smoking.