No tobacco

RACELAND Two more Northeast Kentucky school districts are going tobacco-free, complying with a new state law banning use of tobacco products in all state schools by 2020.

Raceland-Worthington’s board of education revised its policy Monday. Greenup County updated its policy in July.

The policies are sweeping. They forbid use of tobacco or tobacco substitutes in all school buildings, on all school property and in all district-owned vehicles at all times. The bans include vaping, which has recently risen as a student discipline and health issue.

Greenup’s ban is effective immediately. A notice on front page of the district’s website blares the restriction: “Everybody/all the time/everywhere.”

That has always been the policy for students and now it will apply to faculty, staff and visitors, district spokeswoman Scarlet Shoemaker said.

 Raceland-Worthington will implement the policy this academic year, Superintendent Larry Coldiron said. Tobacco use by students has always been prohibited, he said.

The restrictions in both districts will apply to visitors at football games and other sporting events on school grounds.

Both districts will enforce the rules but not harshly. “It will be up to staff to apprise (violators) of the policy. It will be a tiered approach. We’re not going to haul anyone off to jail,” Shoemaker said. “We’ll start with a gentle reminder and if they can’t follow board policy we’ll ask them to leave the premises.

Raceland will install signs at all venues, including in all vehicles and sports fields, Coldiron said.

The two districts are part of a trend that has already taken hold in Northeast Kentucky and is sweeping the state following the passage earlier this year of the state law.

Ashland, Boyd County, Fairview and Russell already have similar policies.

When the law was signed in April, 72 districts had complete bans, according to Kentucky School Boards Association spokesman Josh Shoulta. Since then the number has grown to 129, he said.

One reason may be the increasing prevalence of vaping, leading districts to implementing bans that may assist in discouraging the practice. “Because of vaping, schools are working quickly to implement policies. We are seeing incredible momentum,” he said.

The law includes an opt-out provision that schools can take for the first three years. Districts that might take that step would likely have unique local concerns, Shoulta said.

For instance, a district already having difficulty in retaining faculty and staff might relax the ban, he said.

However, more districts appear to be in favor, he said. “What we are seeing on the ground is overwhelming support for the policy now that it is law at the state level.” 

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