Jelaine Harlow, health educator for the Lake Cumberland District Health Department, presented the board with letters from community partners supporting a tobacco-free school policy, and results from surveys that showed 70 percent of school parents in the county school support a tobacco-free school policy, Whitehouse reports.
The surveys included ones given to parents and students across the school district including a ninth-grade student survey, a teacher-opinion survey, and a parent survey. It also included opinion results from attendees at a Casey County basketball game that showed overwhelming support for tobacco-free policy.
Board Chairman Ken Coffman first said the issue would be decided later, but member Marilyn Coffey said, “Ken, I believe some of us are ready to vote. I think we’ve had a year to think about this and I’d like to make a motion to pass it and phase it in.” the motion carried, with only Vice Chairman John Cox opposed.
The school board in Clinton County also heard a similar plea from the same health department, including a report that high-school sophomores’ use of smokeless tobacco had increased, but took no action, the Clinton County News reports. The high-school principal noted that many school employees smoke.
The health department noted that school boards in Somerset, Adair County and Russell County had recently enacted tobacco-free policies. Since the end of the federal tobacco program in 2004, tobacco production in the area has sharply and steadily declined, leaving tobacco with little of the political support that once insulated it from government controls.
With school-board elections held this month, and not to be held for another two years, there may be more such votes in the near future.
Kentucky School Boards Association spokesman Brad Hughes said in an e-mail that as of June, 33 of the state’s 173 school districts had adopted all-encompassing tobacco-free campus policies; 12 have adopted policies that only affect students and staff, with no restrictions for visitors and groups renting district facilities. Four have adopted tobacco-free policy language with exceptions, such as allowing smoking in personal vehicles or at outdoor events; and four have asked KSBA to draft tobacco-free policy language, but have not yet reported final adoption of those policies. Hughes noted that smoking by underage students is prohibited by law anywhere, including in schools, in buses and anywhere on campus.