Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, November 26, 2013
Talk about preventing kids from smelling bad! A Pennsylvania state representative is considering introducing a bill that would ban the use of scented products, including the foul-smelling line of Axe body products, in schools where students have severe fragrance allergies.
State Rep. Marcia Hahn first came up with the idea for the bill after a student at a high school within her district had to be hospitalized after having a severe allergic reaction to Axe Body Spray. The student was forced to enroll in cyber classes as a result.
The legislation itself, the Fragrance Free Schools Act, would mandate that districts or joint school boards develop a written policy banning the use of scented products if they are notified by a student with a related allergy. The school would be required to distribute the policy as part of the student code of conduct and post notices of the perfume prohibition at all school entrances, but would not be required to identify the student publicly. Schools that fail to comply would be responsible for footing any medical bills incurred by the student if they have an allergic reaction.
Hahn understands that the situation isn’t a fair one across-the-board, but believes that even though regulating fragrance use among teens is a challenge that the proposal could at the minimum start a debate on the subject. She is currently in the process of seeking co-sponsors for the proposal and looking into the possibility of holding a hearing on the matter.
“If you have a piece of legislation and it’s not enforceable, it doesn’t really help,” she told Watchdog.org. “So I’m hoping that we can come up with a solution that works for everyone.”
The student’s mother is in full support of Hahn’s efforts, given that even after officials at the school asked students to stop using Axe Body Spray the student had another allergic reaction when he tried to return.
According to Watchdog.org, neither the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union or Unilever, which owns the Axe brand, have yet to comment on Hahn’s proposal.
In the meantime, the principal of the Bethlehem-area high school where the incident happened is figuring out how to prevent similar situations from happening in the future. Freedom High School Principal Michael LaPorta toldWatchdog.org that the student was only allergic to Axe’s Body Spray – not other products under the Axe product line – and that for this particular student simply walking by a student covered in the scent could trigger an allergic reaction.
LaPorta is skeptical, however, that a full-out ban on fragrances will stick in a school of 3,000 students.
“Kids that don’t take showers don’t want to walk around all day with body odor, so some of them will put cologne on or whatever,” he said.
This wasn’t the first time this year that a student has been hospitalized over a fragrance allergy, either. Ten students at a Brooklyn school were hospitalized last month after another student sprayed their classroom with Axe Body Spray.