Lawmakers look to strengthen school tobacco laws - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Lawmakers look to strengthen school tobacco laws

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By: Bill Schammert

Some lawmakers are looking to strengthen tobacco regulations when it comes to Nebraska public schools.  On Tuesday, the legislature's Education Committee heard testimony on the Tobacco Free Act, introduced by Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist.

As it stands right now, tobacco use is not allowed on school grounds, if that school receives federal funding.  But in many cases, if the school plays a sporting event or hosts a dance on private property, those tobacco regulations don't apply.

David Holmquist, a lobbyist with the American Cancer Society, described such an event.

"In this particular event, the prom is held in a venue that has nothing to do with the school.  Since it's rented, they could choose to or not to make the facility smoke free," Holmquist said.

A 2012 survey shows smoking rates among 10th-12th graders has dropped to 10.6-percent, more than half of what it was in the 1990s.  It's a downward trend that can be seen in all ages.

"Part of what makes young people behave one way or another is based on modeling adults," Holmquist said.

A similar bill was proposed by Sen. Nordquist two years ago, but it failed to make it out of committee.

"I think it's absolutely critical we look at the precedent and exposure," Sen. Nordquist said.

The Act leaves enforcement up to the school districts themselves, but an adult found guilty could face up to a $100 fine.

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