Rod Driver

Article from the Westerly Sun, January 13, 1989

Bill would ban smoking in schools

PROVIDENCE - One day after release of the U.S. Surgeon General's 1989 report on smoking, a bill was introduced in the General Assembly to expand Rhode Island's law on smoking in public places.

The bill, introduced Wednesday by Rep. Rodney D. Driver, would ban smoking in retail stores, airports, and enclosed areas of railway stations and bus depots - unless smoking rooms are provided. But its most significant feature, Driver said, would be a ban on smoking in the state's elementary and secondary schools.

"Nicotine is recognized as one of the most addictive drugs in use in the United States, and it certainly produces the highest death toll. Moreover, nicotine is a gateway drug from which youngsters often go on to other (illegal) drugs," Driver said in a recent news release.

"If we want to give our children the message, `don't do drugs,' we must be consistent," Driver said. "We can't allow them to do drugs in school and we can't have the teachers as role models doing drugs in school."

According to. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, 60 percent of adults who are addicted to nicotine actually started smoking before age 14, and 80 percent started before age 21.

Last year, Driver introduced a similar bill in the General Assembly. The bill was supported by the R.I. Department of Health, the attorney general's office, the Lung and Heart Associations, and the Cancer Society.

But the bill died in committee after opposition by the Tobacco Institute.

Driver said he hopes this year's bill will have a better chance of passage due to the latest surgeon general's report, the increasing awareness of the dangers of passive smoking, and the nationwide effort to keep youngsters from using drugs.