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New law excludes asthma inhalers from zero-tolerance drug policies

As Texas students begin the new school year, the American Lung Association of Texas wants educators, parents, and students to know about a new law that allows asthmatic students to carry and self-administer their medication while at school.

During the last Texas Legislative session, lawmakers enacted House Bill 1688, which amended the Texas Education Code entitling students with asthma to possess and self-administer their prescription asthma medication while on school property or at a school-related event or activity. Previously, some public school policies required such medication to be stored with the school principal or the school nurse, sometimes resulting in a significant delay between the time a student feels the onset of an asthma attack and the time the medication is administered, increasing the risk of the student having to go to the emergency room.

“Like many people, we were shocked to learn that some schools had a zero-tolerance drug policy that didn’t even allow students to carry doctor-prescribed medications such as asthma inhalers,” said Edward Carter, president of the American Lung Association of Texas. “Thanks to our advocacy efforts in getting this legislation passed, asthmatic students will be able to have immediate access to their asthma medication, which can prevent an asthma attack from becoming fatal.”

Parents must provide a written authorization and a statement from the prescribing physician to their child’s school to be kept on file in the school nurse’s office or the principal’s office.

More than one million Texans suffer from asthma; one-third of them are children. Asthma is the leading cause of chronic illness and school absenteeism in children and teens. Each year, children with asthma miss twice as many school days as children without asthma. For more information about asthma or House Bill 1688, contact the American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA or visit www.texaslung.org.

The American Lung Association of Texas has been fighting lung disease for nearly 100 years through education, advocacy, research, and community programs.

For more information, call 1-800-LUNG-USA, or visit our website at www.texaslung.org.