Starting in July of 2020, Kentucky public schools can move to ban all tobacco products and vaping on campus. The bill, given final passage on the last day of the 2019 session, allows for opting out of the prohibition during the first three years.
Bonnie Hackbarth with Foundation For a Healthy Kentucky said passage means some 275,000 kids will be protected from second-hand smoke and e-cig vapor in schools, at athletic fields and on field trips.
“What tobacco-free schools policies do is they reduce kids’ exposure to the usage. Not only the smoke and the e-cigarette aerosol, but they don’t see the use around them nearly as much. They’re seeing adults that are modeling positive healthy behavior,” said Hackbarth.
Bill Sponsor Kim Moser believes the measure will help to prevent a lot of addiction. She says there could be positive health effects in a relatively short time. The lawmaker said making it known a school campus is tobacco-free is enough to change attitudes.
Kentucky Cancer Foundation Director Jack Hillard said tobacco-free school legislation is the first step. He says health advocates will be pushing for more policy changes next year. “I think we will be back discussing and working and fighting to increase the tobacco tax again next year, increase the age to purchase tobacco products,” noted Hillard.
A bill increasing the age to buy cigarettes to 21 failed to get traction this session. Hillard said passage of the tobacco-free schools' measure is part of the puzzle to hopefully reduce, over generations, lung cancer rates in Kentucky.