By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Smoke-Free Tomorrow coalition held a rally in the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday urging support for a bill that would prohibit all tobacco use from Kentucky school campuses.
House Bill 11, sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, and Senate Bill 27, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, would prohibit the use of any tobacco product, alternative nicotine product or vapor product on school grounds, in school vehicles, or in other vehicles while on school property. The bill would also prohibit use of these products by school personnel, students and volunteers during school-related trips and activities.
“The tobacco-free schools bill we’ve introduced is all about prevention,” Alvarado said, stating that 90 percent of tobacco use starts before the age of 18. “This is the first step amongst many steps to help us reduce tobacco use in the state, in the commonwealth.”
The bills enjoy broad support from groups such as the Kentucky Chamber, Kentucky Medical Association, Kentucky School Board Association and Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
While federal law prohibits smoking inside schools that receive federal funding, only 42 percent of Kentucky public school districts, covering 57 percent of the state’s public-school students, have adopted 100 percent tobacco-free policies.
“Tobacco-free schools policies set a healthy example for students by de-normalizing tobacco use at school, where our children and teens spend a third of their waking hours,” Rep. Moser said.
Advocates say passing a statewide tobacco-free school law could stop nearly one in three Kentucky students from smoking.
If passed during the 2019 General Assembly, all school campuses would be required to be tobacco-free by July 1, 2020.