Schools, policymakers, students, parents, and health advocates celebrated a big win for student health in the 2019 Kentucky legislative session with passage of House Bill 11, which established a statewide tobacco-free school campus policy. All are celebrating again at the start of the school year as school districts are acting early to comply with HB 11.
When the bill became law, only 72 of the state’s 173 school districts, or 42 percent, were tobacco-free campuses. As of August 28th, a total of 148 school districts were tobacco-free—that means the number of districts who’ve adopted the policy has doubled in just a couple of months. It also means that now, 86 percent of Kentucky school districts and those students are protected from secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol. And more school districts are expected to adopt tobacco-free campus policies soon!
Through a partnership between the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA), and the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care (KFMC), schools working to comply with HB 11 should have no problem implementing the policy’s requirements. The partnership’s “Tobacco Free for Students” program will:
- Cover the cost of metal signage for school entrances and outdoor sports venue fencing, as well as window decals for exterior school building doors and buses.
- Distribute signage on a first-come, first-served basis to districts that adopt a new tobacco-free school policy after April 2019.
- Expand eligibility for free signage in January 2020 to include Kentucky school districts that previously had passed tobacco-free school policies and would like to refresh their campus and vehicle signage.
At a recent press conference announcing the Tobacco Free for Students program, Kendall Tubbs and Abbi Stratton, high school seniors and Tobacco-Free Ambassadors at Graves County High School, shared:
“With Graves County schools just recently adopting the tobacco-free campus policy and with these new signs visible throughout the school, we hope our classmates begin to better understand the harms of tobacco and e-cigarette products to their health. We also think this new rule will take the pressure off those of us who are asked to use these products but don’t actually want to. As seniors, we hope by the end of our high school career to see all hallways, bathrooms, and sports games free from tobacco.”
School districts can learn more about this opportunity at www.tobaccofreestudents.org/.