Publication Date: 
Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tobacco use by youth is a significant concern, as 95% of adult smokers start smoking before the age of 25. In 2012, more than 15,000 students in King County reported using cigarettes or other tobacco products in the past month. Research shows a clear link between health and academic achievement. Preventing and intervening with youth tobacco use is linked to increased academic performance and reductions in school dropout rates and the likelihood of other drug use. Schools can be on the front-line of tobacco prevention and cessation. 

Washington State law prohibits the use of all tobacco products on public school property. State regulations require each school district board of directors to have a written policy prohibiting tobacco use. State regulations also require minimum policy components, including: notifying all students and personnel of the policy, requiring posting of signs, establishing sanctions for students and personnel, and requiring that District staff enforce the policy. (RCW 28A.210.310)

Districts have flexibility to create stronger policies. For example, Districts may have strong language addressing newer products (e-devices). They may also incorporate other approaches to reducing youth tobacco exposure, through restricting tobacco company sponsorship of athletic teams and events,  prohibiting tobacco use at off-campus events or in personal vehicles on campus, and may mandate specific "alternatives to suspension" approaches to support youth with cessation and education services or to support staff with tobacco addiction. Understanding variation in policy approaches are particularly significant due to disparities in tobacco use and educational outcomes by race and ethnicity and geographic locations in King County.  

This page includes policies and procedures in effect through August 2014.