(LOUISVILLE, Ky - February 13, 2018) Nearly nine in 10 adults in Kentucky favor 100 percent tobacco-free policies on school campuses in their communities, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). Support for tobacco-free schools has been consistent since 2013.
According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 41 percent of Kentucky high school students have tried cigarettes. Strong policies for tobacco-free school campuses can help youth avoid starting tobacco use and help those who want to quit. Yet just 39 percent of of Kentucky school districts have 100 percent tobacco-free policies, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program.
"We were making great headway in reducing youth smoking until e-cigarettes made tobacco use somewhat socially acceptable again," said Ben Chandler, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and chair of the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow. "It is imperative that we send the message to Kentucky's youth that using tobacco of any kind is dangerous. We can reinforce that message by ensuring that students don't see their peers, teachers and role models smoking and using tobacco on school grounds."
Research indicates that the younger a person is when they first try tobacco, the more susceptible they are to addiction. Recent studies also show that e-cigarette use among youth can lead to smoking cigarettes. Policies that prohibit the use of all tobacco by students, staff, parents and guests while on school grounds and at school-sponsored activities are recommended by a variety of health advocates, including the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society.
According to the latest KHIP, support for tobacco-free schools in Kentucky is consistently strong across party lines and among those who do and do not have children in the home.
Sen. Ralph Alvarado has introduced a bill, SB 51, which would prohibit tobacco products on school campuses across the state. The Foundation supports this legislation.
A copy of the KHIP tobacco-free school policy report is available here.