Utah legislature considers stronger vaping rules for schools

Nov 20, 2019, 12:58 PM
Illinois schools vaping death vaping-related lung injury...
In this Tuesday, April 10, 2018 photo, Marshfield High School Principal Robert Keuther displays vaping devices that were confiscated from students in such places as restrooms or hallways at the school in Marshfield, Mass. Utah school officials say there are no clear rules allowing them to confiscate e-cigarettes from students, currently. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new bill before Utah lawmakers would give schools more power to tackle vaping.

School officials spoke in favor of the bill, which would give the schools the ability to confiscate e-cigarettes and other devices, at a committee hearing Wednesday on Utah’s Capitol Hill.

“We have just seen a huge number of students using e-cigarettes and vapes in our schools. We work with four police departments, and there is a lot of confusion over what to do with confiscated items, so that clarifies that for us,” BJ Weller, Director of Responsive Services for the Canyons School District, said.

Schools say current vaping rules aren’t clear

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Susan Pulsipher, R-South Jordan, said vaping has become a major headache for schools. And because the law is unclear on the developing technology, school leaders have often been confused about what to do next. For example, are they obligated to return them to students under the same rules that would require them to return a confiscated cell phone or other electronic devices?

School surveys showed nearly 10 percent of Utah students between the grades of six and 12 reported vaping in the last month. That works out to about 30,000 children in the state.

“We know from the SHARP survey data, it’s more than 30,000 students in our state. A lot of students. And it’s increasing,” Pulsipher said. “Some schools have boxes of these devices that they’re not sure what to do with.”

“The vaping issue is a huge deal,” Pulsipher said.

Early intervention and education

The bill also addresses intervention and prevention measures for vaping. It calls for education starting as early as elementary school.

“If there ever was a state that could send a very powerful message about what is right and what is wrong here, it’s the state of Utah,” said Terry Shoemaker, executive director of the Utah School Superintendents Association.

Parents like Todd Hougaard with the Utah PTA say their kids can’t even go to the bathroom at school without lots of students in there vaping.

“There’s a meme going around that says, ‘What are these toilets doing in the vaping room?'” he told the Education Interim Committee.

The full Utah House of Representatives plans to take up the legislation in 2020. If approved there, it would then move on to the state Senate for approval, then to the governor for a signature.

Utah health officials say the state is dealing with more than 100 cases of vaping-related lung injury, higher than the national rate.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team. here.

Today’s Top Stories


Gov. Spencer Cox announced Utah Court of Appeals Judge Jill M. Pohlman is his nominee to serve on t...
Mark Jones

Tax cuts, teacher salary raise among budget recommendations by Cox

On Thursday, Gov. Cox announced significant tax cuts and a salary increase for all teachers are included in his recommendations for the fiscal year 2024 budget.
1 day ago
West Jordan Elementary is closing its gate for the last time at the end of the school year, due to ...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

West Jordan Elementary School is closing its gates after 40 years

West Jordan Elementary is closing its gate for the last time at the end of the school year, due to safety issues within the infrastructure.
1 day ago
A woman wishing not to be identified shows her sadness after the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake ran ou...
Waverly Golden

Expert joins Inside Sources on women accessing homeless resources

Emily Darowski, Associate Director for the Utah Women and Leadership Project, discusses a recent study the project conducted on women accessing homeless resources in Utah.
2 days ago
Student loan forgiveness on hold...
Samantha Herrera

Student loan forgiveness resolution on hold until 2023

Jason Iuliano, associate professor of law for the University of Utah spoke to Dave and Dujanovic about the student loan forgiveness block.
3 days ago
kindergarten gap year...
Tom Haraldsen

Checking in on the status of full-day kindergarten in Utah

Policy analyst with Voices for Utah Children reveals whether full-day kindergarten could be in the cards for next year.
4 days ago
video game...
Elizabeth Weiler

BYU students win international award for video game

SALT LAKE CITY — Students apart of the animation program at BYU received international recognition from the Rookie Awards for developing and producing a video game. Additionally, the “Highly Commended” also helped BYU earn the global ranking of fifth top video game design school.  The interactive computer game in question is titled Liminus: The Silent Guard, it […]
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Utah legislature considers stronger vaping rules for schools