Bevin signs smoking ban bill at JCMS

Gov. Matt Bevin, alongside state senators Ralph Alvarado and Brandon Smith and state Rep. Bobby McCool, visited Johnson County Middle School Thursday for a ceremonial signing of House Bill 11, which seeks to limit tobacco use on school campuses across the state. The bill’s passing, according to Bevin and the other officials, was helped along greatly by the testimony of last year’s JCMS Community Problem Solving team, the Juul Breakers, who were seeking the enactment of a bill that would seek to curtail the use of electronic cigarettes by minors at school.

On Aug 22, Gov. Matt Bevin and state representatives visited Johnson County Middle School for the signing of House Bill 11, which encourages school systems in the bluegrass to ban tobacco and other nicotine-containing products from their campuses.

It was the effort of the middle school’s group of Community Problem Solvers, also known as the Juul Breakers, who led the way for this legislation, according to the government

officials present.

Last school year, as well as during the summer break, the nine students, who would go on to become international champions worked diligently to devise a bill that would pass both the house and the senate to ban addictive nicotine containing products from school campuses. Although their originally proposed bill was not the bill that was passed, government officials at the ceremony on Thursday credited the persistence and passion of these students for the success of House Bill 11.

Principal Sean Hall opened the ceremony and said The Juul Breakers were not politically driven, but that they did use the political process to achieve their goal.

“I admire their bravery, their courage, for all that they have accomplished,” he said. “Through their testimony in front of congressional committees, visiting other school systems and even being criticized by their own classmates. That took a lot of courage and a lot of bravery and these students have earned and deserved this reward for their hard work.”

During the ceremony, state Sen. Brandon Smith, who worked closely with the teens trying to pass this legislation for nearly one year, credited the students for being well informed on the dangers of using vape products.

“I figured out quick that they knew their stuff,” Smith said.  “It was probably one of the best testimonies I have seen in my 30 years of public service. They made this one of the most talked about issues in the commonwealth and the nation from here to DC and they did so because they never gave up.”

Also present at the ceremony was state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, Bevin’s running mate in this year’s race for the governor’s office. Alvarado, a pediatrician by trade, touched on the dangers of and misinformation spread about vaping. He further explained the bill that had passed, stating “the schools said that you can’t use tobacco or tobacco-type products or vaping products on campus at all. For the next three years, school boards can opt out, we hope that none of them do.”

He also credited the Juul Breakers for the success of the bill.

Concluding the ceremony was Bevin, who praised the students who helped create the legislation.

 “This is a dangerous, dangerous habit. It is, straight up,” said Bevin.“If it had not been for your testimony, had it not been for your bravery, and your courage, it would not have happened.”

 “Believe in yourself, believe in your potential and you’ll be the ones signing legislation yourselves one day,” Bevin said.

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