WCPS Group Pushes Tobacco-free District



A Warren County Public Schools survey indicates strong interest in making the district 100 percent tobacco-free.

Cumberland Trace Elementary School Principal Mary Evans said 2,765 people recently took a voluntary electronic survey regarding a 100 percent tobacco-free district. Evans chairs a county district committee exploring such a policy.

When it came to the specific question of supporting the tobacco-free concept, 2,493 people responded, Evans said, with 83 percent supporting the concept. More than 15,000 students and 2,600 employees are in the county district.

“The top priority of Warren County Public Schools is student safety,” Superintendent Rob Clayton said in an email. “In our dedication to uphold this standard, we also strive to provide a healthy environment for our students, teachers, parents, community, and visitors. A ban on smoking and tobacco products is the next logical step in this endeavor. By becoming a tobacco-free zone, we are further investing in our children and their futures.”

A 100 percent tobacco-free school policy prohibits tobacco use by staff, students and visitors 24 hours a day, seven days a week, inside board-owned buildings or vehicles, on school-owned property and during school-sponsored student trips and activities, according to a September letter to school superintendents from Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and state Public Health Commissioner Stephanie K. Mayfield Gibson.

Of school districts in southcentral Kentucky, only Simpson County is 100 percent tobacco-free.

Thirty-seven districts statewide are designated as 100 percent tobacco-free, according to the website tobaccofreeschoolsky.org.

Bowling Green Independent School District has policies prohibiting tobacco use inside school buildings and in front of students, but it is not pursuing a districtwide tobacco ban at this time, Superintendent Joe Tinius said. A districtwide ban would include tobacco use at athletic events.

“The use of tobacco products is prohibited in any building owned or operated by the board. In addition, employees may not use tobacco products while on duty in the presence of students at school-sponsored activities at any location,” the city district policy states.

Of the 2,765 people who took the survey, about 37 percent were students, 34 percent were staff and 27 percent were parents, Evans said.

In light of the survey results, Evans said the committee will offer a recommended policy to the county school board in March.

The 100 percent tobacco-free website offers 10 reasons to adopt the policy:

•It provides positive role modeling by adult employees and visitors.

•Lessons learned in the classroom are reinforced with such a policy.

•It provides a safe environment for students by reducing exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

•The policies help protect children from developing an addiction to a dangerous drug.

•The policies comply with federal legislation prohibiting smoking inside school buildings.

•The policies work in conjunction with state and federal laws.

•The policies help in compliance with state laws designed to limit access to tobacco by children.

•The policies prepare students for the reality of tobacco-free workplaces and communities.

•The policies protect schools from the risk of future liability by prohibiting smoking on school premises.

•The policies reduce the risk of fires due to “smoking materials.”

“Studies show that students in tobacco-free schools are less likely to start smoking,” Holliday and Gibson noted in their letter to the superintendents last year.

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