A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

KHIP: State’s adults favor tobacco-free schools; only 39% of school districts have tobacco-free policies

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The most recent Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) found that nearly 9 in 10 adults (87%) favor schools adopting tobacco-free campus policies in their communities.  Support for tobacco-free school policies has been consistently strong — favored by 85% of Kentucky adults in 2015 and 84% in 2013.

Northern Kentucky adults also voiced strong support with more than 92% favoring tobacco-free school policies in the most recent poll. 

Interact for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky fund KHIP.

Tobacco use begins early

Policies for tobacco-free environments in schools can help youths avoid tobacco and support those who want to quit.  Nearly 9 in 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18. In Kentucky, 41% of high school students have tried cigarettes, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

 “Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in our region and the nation,” says O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Interact for Health. “The majority of smokers today first tried it while they were in still in school. This poll shows overwhelming support to remove tobacco from our school campuses, which we believe would result in fewer people using tobacco and healthier lives for future generations.”


 
Today, only 39% of Kentucky school districts have 100% tobacco-tree school district policies. In 2017, the Kentucky Senate passed Senate Bill 78, which would have prohibited tobacco use on school property, but House Education Committee stopped the bill.

Support consistent among adults

Tobacco-free school policies were supported both by adults in households with children (90%) and without children (85%). Majorities of adults in all political parties in Kentucky strongly favored tobacco-free school policies.

 
       
 “The poll suggests adoption of tobacco-free policies in Kentucky schools lags far behind what its residents’ desire,” says Megan Folkerth, Interact for Health Program Officer. “Our youth spend a significant portion of every day at school.  Removing tobacco from this environment — at the same age they are most like to try it — would be a giant step forward in preventing future health problems and premature deaths.”

More information about Kentuckians’ opinions about tobacco-free policies in school, and other topics, such as raising the minimum age to buy tobacco, is available at the website.

The 2017 Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) is funded by Interact for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. KHIP was conducted Oct. 24-Dec. 2, 2017, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 1,692 adults from throughout Kentucky was interviewed by telephone. This included 861 landline interviews and 831 cell phone interviews with cell phone users. In 95 of 100 cases, the statewide estimates will be accurate to ± 2.4%. Please visit the Interact website or the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky website.

From Interact for Health

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