Elizabethtown schools go tobacco-free, including e-cigs; Hardin County follows suit but will allow smoking in private vehicles

Schools in Elizabethtown will be tobacco-free this year, and those in the surrounding Hardin County district will limit smoking to private vehicles in campuses, The News-Enterprise reports.

The Elizabethtown policy “will include e-cigarettes that have obviously become more and more popular,” Supt. Jon Ballard told reporter Anna Taylor after the school board approved the policy last month.

“So far, 45 other Ken­tucky school districts, or 26 percent of districts, already have made their campuses tobacco-free,” Taylor reports. “This includes 546 schools,” or 44 percent of the state’s 1,233 public schools.

That does not include Hardin County, because the anti-smoking policy its board adopted Aug. 6 still allows use of tobacco inside private vehicles on school campuses.

“The state championship Project Citizen group from Meadow View Elementary School in Radcliff included the measure” as one of several policy suggestions to board members, whose previous policy allowed principals to designate smoking areas on school grounds 15 feet away from entrances.

“Supt. Nannette Johnston said the recommendation did a good job bringing to administrators’ attention that the district’s tobacco policy isn’t widely known or followed,” Amber Coulter reports for The News-Enterprise. “Some schools have designated smoking areas, while others don’t, she said.”

“We felt like we needed to be consistent across the board and not have people worrying about where they put the sign or where they’re supposed to be,” Johnston said. She added that the district “needs to use announcers at sporting events to make sure adults associated with Hardin County Schools know the tobacco policy,” Coulter writes. “Board member Charlie Wise said the policy might be hard to enforce, especially during football games.”

“It’s going to take a lot of education,” such as signs to remind people of the policy, Johnston said. “We’re not going to have tobacco police out there patrolling.”

 The district will post signs to inform users about the policy, Johnston said. “Otherwise, we would be back to the same thing,” she said.

“Tobacco-free schools are a key component of Gov. Steve Beshear’s Kentucky Health Now initiative, which aims to reduce Kentucky’s smoking rate 10 percent by 2019,” Taylor notes. “Another policy change for EIS this year is with student rewards.

The policy encourages student rewards be something other than food or beverages.”

Stefanie Goff, director of community planning and education for the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, told Taylor, “We are working with the schools to keep the children healthier. Children who are healthier have higher attendance rates and improved test scores. They also have fewer behavior problems. This in turn leads to improved education and increased graduation rates.”

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