- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An Oklahoma state law taking effect this week bans tobacco on school property and at events, though most districts already have policies that do so.

According to the state Health Department, an estimated 85 percent of schools already have a policy banning tobacco, the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1NCFvRf ) reported. A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin said the law ensures that “100 percent of our schools have tobacco bans.”

“Tobacco products are the leading cause of preventable death in the state of Oklahoma,” Fallin said. “A lot of tobacco users first form the habit by being around other tobacco users, including friends and parents, when they were young.”

The law, which takes effect Thursday, was passed last session and applies not only to school property, but school-sanctioned events and transportation as well as private schools. The bill doesn’t apply to electronic cigarettes or vapor products, but Fallin’s office urges schools to include those products in their tobacco-free policies.

A Health Department spokesman said any person who knowingly violates the law is subject to a citation and fine of no more than $100.

Shawn Hime, Oklahoma State School Boards Association executive director, said his organization has had very few calls on the new law because many already have a ban in policy.

“Schools understand the dangers of tobacco,” he said. “The last thing they want to do is have tobacco around their students.”

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