Concerned that historic declines in youth tobacco use will be undermined by the exploding popularity of Juul and other e-cigarettes, the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow said it will push for a state law making Kentucky school campuses 100 percent tobacco-free in the upcoming year. A statewide tobacco-free schools law would expand a powerful tool already used by 734 schools in the state to all Kentucky public schools, in order to reduce youth exposure and peer pressure to tobacco products and create an atmosphere where tobacco use is not the norm.
“We’re suddenly seeing epidemic levels of kids vaping e-cigarettes, and we’ve got to get a handle on it before we totally reverse the gains we’ve made in the last couple of decades in reducing youth tobacco use,” said Ben Chandler, Chair of the Coalition.
The Coalition supports a comprehensive law that prohibits the use of all tobacco products – including e-cigarettes and vapor products – by staff, students and visitors at all times inside Board-owned buildings or vehicles, on school property, and during school-sponsored field trips, sports events and other activities.
The Coalition said the law should include anti-preemptive language so that local governments can enact stronger policies if they choose. The Coalition also urges that penalties for violations be appropriate so they do not prevent students from learning. And the law should include adequate state funding for signage and other tools to implement the policies in every pre-K through grade 12 public school.
Currently, federal law prohibits smoking inside schools that receive federal funding, but 72 Kentucky public school districts have gone further, adopting 100 percent tobacco-free campus policies. These policies currently protect 57 percent of Kentucky’s public school students.
The chart below shows youth tobacco use rates in Kentucky compared to the United States through 2017. Keep in mind that the rates likely do not reflect the latest e-cigarette products, which the Food and Drug Administration says have helped swell youth e-cigarette use to epidemic levels. Thus, e-cigarette use is likely higher than shown below. And in any case, Kentucky youth tobacco use rates are higher, in some cases significantly, than national averages.
FDA Launches “Real Cost” Campaign Aimed at Preventing Youth E-Cigarette/Vapes Use
A majority of youth – 80 percent – don’t see a great risk of harm from regular vaping or using e-cigarettes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in announcing an expansion of its award-winning “The Real Cost” campaign to educate nearly 10.7 million youth about the potential risks of using these new tobacco products. The campaign includes hard-hitting videos, posters and social media content urging teens to “know the real cost of vaping,” with messaging designed to snap teens out of their “cost-free” mentality and help youth understand the potential risks of the products. See the FDA’s announcement here.