Maine CDC Promotes Awareness of Law to Prevent Vaping in Schools

08/28/2019 

Maine schools have reported a significant increase in the number of students using electronic smoking devices, commonly referred to as vaping, over the past year.

To support schools in addressing these emerging products, the Maine Legislature passed a bill to prohibit electronic smoking devices at schools, which will take effect on September 19, 2019. LD 152 - "An Act to Prohibit the Possession and Use of Electronic Smoking Devices on School Grounds" was signed into law on April 30, 2019 by Governor Mills as an important step to protect young Mainers from the emerging threat of these devices. The recently enacted biennial budget, signed by Governor Mills on June 17, also allocates $10 million from the Fund for a Healthy Maine for smoking prevention and cessation.

Effective Sept. 19, 2019, Maine law will prohibit use and possession of all tobacco products, including both combustible and electronic products, on school grounds, in school buildings, at school-sponsored events, and on school buses. Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, pipes, electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic pipes, electronic hookahs, other vaping-type products, hookahs, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, snus, as well as filters, rolling papers, and any tobacco or nicotine liquids.

E-cigarettes entered the U.S. marketplace around 2007, and since 2014, they have been the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth. E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine as well as other chemicals known to damage health. The U.S. Surgeon General reports nicotine exposure during adolescence and young adulthood can cause addiction, harm the developing brain, and damage the respiratory system, including the lungs.

Many schools have reached out to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding increased use of electronic smoking devices among students over the past two years. Maine CDC is compiling updated figures on this increase for release in the fall, but data from the 2017 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey show 15.3 percent of high school youth reported using e-cigarettes and 33.2 percent reported they had tried them.

"This update to the law will help schools to foster a healthier and safer community for students, staff, and visitors," said Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. "Vaping and e-cigarettes pose serious health risks, particularly for kids, teens, and young adults."

The law is intended to support school personnel in their work to maintain and ensure tobacco-free school settings. Maine CDC and its partners have resources to support educators, parents, and communities as the new law takes effect. Additionally, the Maine Tobacco HelpLine can support students, parents, and school personnel who are assisting students interested in quitting.