More Bay Area students getting in trouble over smoking, officials say

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One million more teenagers picked up smoking in the 2017-2018 school year, compared to the previous year, reports the American Lung Association.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attribute the rise to the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping among youth. It’s a trend that Tampa Bay area school districts are seeing as well. 

Polk County reported 134 more tobacco referrals during the 2018-2019 school year, resulting in 154 more suspensions compared to the 2017-2018 school year. 

Hernando County Schools report a total of 159 tobacco referrals for the 2018-2019 school year, resulting in 123 suspensions. 

Sarasota County Schools report a total of 224 tobacco-related incidents, including referrals, suspensions, and expulsions.”  

According to their latest report, the American Lung Association said Florida has a lot of ground to cover when addressing tobacco and health concerns.

The association failed Florida in several areas of their ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report: 
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade (F)
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade (B)
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade (F)
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade (F)
- Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade (F)