Bill to ban smoking on all Kentucky public school grounds passes Senate
02/15/2017 06:02 PM
FRANKFORT – Legislation which, if passed and signed into law, would prohibit tobacco use on public school property passed by the state Senate with a vote of 25-8 on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 78, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, would prohibit the use of tobacco products by students, school personnel, and visitors in schools, school vehicles, properties, and activities, and would require the policies to be in place by the 2018-19 school year.
In addition, the legislation would require signage designating the smoke-free policies and specify the punishments for use of tobacco products.
Alvarado pointed out that 16.9 percent of Kentucky’s students smoke and the time is now to put mechanisms in place to stop that trend.
“Restricting use to tobacco products can be a critical component to a comprehensive strategy to reduce initiation and lifelong addiction,” Alvarado said.
Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, was one of eight legislators who voted against the bill saying that any smoke-free mandates should be instituted by the local school district and not mandated by the state.
“In Shelby County, it’s left up to the county school superintendent and school boards to decide if they want to be smoke-free or not,” Hornback said.
Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, D-Prestonsburg, who also voted against the bill, has concerns that a smoke-free campus could cause less people to come to school athletic events or other functions which could cost the school money.
“Your concerned about your fans that you want to come to the games,” Turner said. “I agree, you should not be smoking in front of the kids but you’re going to cut down on the revenue that comes into the schools that helps to provide for some of the extracurricular activities that we have for our students.”
Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington voted for the measure agreeing with Alvarado that it’s time for the state to do something about the alarming statistics involving Kentucky kids using tobacco products.
He also presented some other state tobacco use stats in addition to what Alvarado presented, and said he would support even stronger anti-tobacco legislation.
“My view is that if we’re serious about trying to deal with smoking in this state, we’re really dancing down the margins here on this issue,” Thomas said. “What we should really be doing is pass a smoke-free ban period.”
SB78 now moves on to the House for consideration.
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