Poll: Large majority of Kentuckians want schools to be tobacco free, but less than a third comply

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An overwhelming majority of Kentucky adults, 85 percent, want schools to be tobacco-free, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

But only 28 percent of the state’s school districts have “protected students, staff members, teachers and guests from secondhand smoke by enacting 100 percent tobacco-free school policies,” says a press release from Interact for Health, which co-sponsored the poll with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. A list of the districts is at www.tobaccofreeschoolsky.org.

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“Kentucky ranks 50th, the worst state in the nation, in the percentage of secondary school campuses that prohibit tobacco use in all locations at all times,” the release says. “Nationally, 65 percent of schools have such a policy.” In Kentucky, such policies are set by local boards of education.

The state’s tobacco heritage remains strong. In 2015, 23 percent of Kentucky middle-school students reported trying cigarettes, and 28 percent of high school students said they used cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco.

The poll found large majorities of smokers, former smokers and non-smokers in favor of tobacco-free campus policies, and support was strong across party lines. The greatest opposition was found among the poor, African Americans, people who haven’t gone to college and those who said their general health was fair or poor.

Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the foundation, said in its news release, “A 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy reduces a young person’s exposure to second-hand smoke and allows adults to model tobacco-free lifestyles. Notably, Kentucky smokers understand this important issue. Eighty percent of current smokers favor tobacco-free school policies in their communities.”

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll was conducted Sept. 17 through Oct. 7 by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. The sample of 1,608 adults has an error margin of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

From Kentucky Health News

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