About 10 out of every 11 Kentucky school districts have a tobacco-free policy in place to match a state law that will take effect next July, according to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
Only 16 of Kentucky's 172 school districts have not passed a tobacco-free policy that bans the use of all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, on school-owned property and school-sponsored events in all public schools.
School districts in western Kentucky that do not have tobacco-free policies are Fulton, Trigg and Union counties.
The law -- House Bill 11, which became Kentucky Revised Statute 438.345 -- was signed into law in April and prohibits use of any tobacco product, nicotine alternative or vapor on school property. That includes any vehicle owned by the school district and all students and district employees, volunteers or affiliates on school-related trips when in the presence of students.
School districts have until July 1, 2020, to put a policy in place relating to the bill. School district boards may opt out after three years, on or after July 1, 2023.
When the bill became law on April 9, only 74 of the 172 school districts were fully tobacco-free. As of Oct. 3, that number was up to 157, or 91.3%.
Fulton County allows adults on duty to smoke in designated areas on campus if no students are present, but does not allow smoking by students on campus or bus drivers on duty. Trigg County allows people to smoke at community events at the football stadium, but does not allow students or school personnel to use or possess tobacco products, alternative nicotine products or vapor products on campus. Union County does not allow students to use or possess tobacco products, alternative nicotine products or vapor products on campus but, like Trigg County, does not provide a policy for adults who are not district employees at off-campus functions.
Thirteen of the 16 districts that do not have 100% smokefree policies are east of Lexington.
The law also requires schools to post signs, but provides no funding for signage. The health foundation, the Kentucky Medical Association and the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care have created signs in consultation with the Kentucky School Boards Association and are offering them to districts that adopted tobacco-free policies after the law passed.
Districts that adopted tobacco-free policies after the bill became law can get the indoor, outdoor and vehicle signs on a first-come, first-serve basis.
In January, if supplies remain, the signage will be offered to all school districts, including those that had previously passed tobacco-free school policies. An order form and information about the signage can be found on the Tobacco-Free for Students website, www.tobaccofreestudents.org.