By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
Legislation seeking to make Kentucky’s schools tobacco-free cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday, passing through the Senate Education Committee unanimously.
Kentucky doctor and state Sen. Ralph Alvarado said he is looking to make the state’s publicly-funded school campuses tobacco-free to help cut down on health issues related to smoking including lung cancer and the impacts of second-hand smoke.
Alvarado also noted the financial impacts on the state of smoking as it relates to the increased costs to Medicaid, loss of productivity, and higher insurance rates.
Kentucky schools currently ban smoking indoors but have some designated smoking areas. Senate Bill 78 would implement full tobacco-free campuses.
In his testimony on the bill, Sen. Alvarado said this is a beginning attempt to cut down on tobacco use among Kentucky’s youth.
“Let’s get our children healthier, let’s save taxpayer dollars, and let’s save lives,” Alvarado said.
Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for Healthy Kentucky, said: “We applaud the Senate Committee on Education for recommending a bill to make Kentucky school campuses smoke-free. We must protect Kentucky’s children, who spend seven hours or more of their day during much of the year in school, from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. Kentucky has the highest adult smoking rate in the nation, and the second highest youth smoking rate. This bill will reduce smoking. While cancer mortality nationwide is declining, the rate of cancer deaths in Kentucky is rising. Many cancers are attributable to smoking. Thus, this bill is also a cancer-prevention bill.”
Senate Bill 78 now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.
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