Nearly 9 in 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18.1 In Kentucky, 41% of high school students have tried cigarettes, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.2 Policies for tobacco-free environments in schools can help youths avoid tobacco and support those who want to quit.
To understand Kentucky adults’ opinions about this topic, the Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) asked, “Research indicates that the younger a person is when they first try tobacco, the more susceptible they are to becoming addicted. To help keep kids from smoking, some school systems are adopting tobacco-free campus policies that would prohibit the use of tobacco by students, staff, parents or guests while they are on school grounds or at school-sponsored activities, such as field trips and sporting events. Would you favor or oppose schools adopting tobacco-free campus policies in your community?” KHIP is funded by Interact for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
Nearly 9 in 10 adults (87%) favored schools adopting tobacco-free campus policies in their communities.
Adults in households with children (90%) and without children (85%) in the home both supported tobacco-free school policies. Majorities of adults in all political parties in Kentucky strongly favored tobacco-free school policies.
Support for tobacco-free school policies has been consistently strong. In 2015 85% of Kentucky adults favored them and in 2013 84% favored them.
At present, only 39% of Kentucky school districts have 100% Tobacco-Free School District policies.3 During the 2017 Kentucky legislative session, Senate Bill 78, which would have prohibited tobacco use on school property, passed out of the Senate but died in the House Education Committee.
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2012. Accessed Jan. 5, 2018. http://bit.ly/2Ga3xWR.
2 Kentucky Department of Education. 2017 High School Trend Report. Accessed Jan. 5, 2018. http://bit.ly/2zTAbvD.
3 Kentucky Department for Public Health, Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program. Kentucky’s 100% Tobacco Free School Districts. November 2017. Accessed Jan. 5, 2018. http://bit.ly/1WXLynG.
Interact for Health regularly conducts research and collects data in order to monitor and evaluate our region’s health status and to measure public opinions about health policy.
Our Health in Action stories highlight the innovative work our grantees are doing to help reduce tobacco use, address the opioid epidemic and ensure that children can access health care through school-based health centers. We also interview people working on those issues at other organizations across the country to learn what works for them.
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