Superintendents urged to make schools smoke free as legislation moves through General Assembly

02/13/2017 09:32 PM

As a bill which prohibit the use of tobacco products on school grounds makes its way through the General Assembly the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is urging superintendents in school districts that aren’t yet tobacco-free to adopt the policy before the legislature acts.

In a letter sent to superintendents statewide, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky CEO Ben Chandler said Kentucky kids deserve to grow up in a cancer-free Kentucky, and a future without heart disease and other chronic conditions tied to smoking.

With Senate Bill 78, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, unanimously passing the Senate Education Committee last week, Chandler urged administrators “get the process under way” as the General Assembly looks set to act.

“As a nonpartisan, nonprofit foundation working to improve the health of Kentuckians, we know that eliminating exposure to second-hand smoke in the buildings and on the grounds where our children spend a third of their young lives will protect them from the dangers of tobacco today, while also reducing the chances that they will start smoking tomorrow,” Chandler added.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, told Pure Politics on Monday he expected the bill would be called for a full vote before the Senate this week.

Chandler is pushing the bill, as a cancer-prevention measure. Smoking is tied to nearly 29 percent of all cancer deaths, yet Kentucky has the highest adult smoking rate and the second highest youth smoking rate in the nation, according to the press release. And “not incidentally,” Chandler said, we also have “the highest death rate from cancer.”

The foundation’s annual Kentucky Health Issues Poll found 85 percent of Kentucky adults support tobacco-free schools.

Chandler’s full letter can be viewed here.

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