Have You Posted Your “No Vaping” Signs?

hA recent state law, effective October 1, 2015, prohibits the use electronic nicotine delivery systems or vapor products in school buildings, among other public locales. In addition, the law requires the person in control of the premises (for example, boards of education) to post signs in conspicuous places regarding the state prohibition. Curiously, the law also explicitly requires that such signs “shall have letters at least four inches high with the principal strokes of letters not less than one-half inch wide.” Failure to post the signs as required by the law may result in being found to have “committed an infraction.”

Presumably, the signs might state something like: “Use of electronic nicotine delivery systems or vapor products prohibited by state law.” Given the required size of the letters, such signs will likely be fairly large (which is why the law exempts certain places from this requirement, though not schools). It is even possible that a sign as simple as “No Vaping” could pass legal muster.   At least the law does not require that the signs include the definitions provided in the law, such as:

"Electronic nicotine delivery system" means an electronic device that may be used to simulate smoking in the delivery of nicotine or other substances to a person inhaling from the device, and includes, but is not limited to, an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe or electronic hookah and any related device and any cartridge or other component of such device;

"Vapor product" means any product that employs a heating element, power source, electronic circuit or other electronic, chemical or mechanical means, regardless of shape or size, to produce a vapor that may or may not include nicotine, that is inhaled by the user of such product.

One final point— although the failure to post such signs (as well as the unauthorized removal of such signs) is considered to be “an infraction,” the actual penalty is not otherwise defined. Since the legislature intends to revisit this topic after the Food and Drug Administration issues anticipated regulations regarding tobacco products, perhaps the legislature will also reconsider or revise the signage requirements.

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Alerts, commentary, and insights from the attorneys of Pullman & Comley’s School Law practice on federal and Connecticut law as it pertains to educational institutions, whether those institutions be public school districts, private K-12 schools, or post-secondary colleges and universities.

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