(Springfield, Ky.) – The Washington County School District recently received a grant from the Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program to develop a 100% Tobacco-Free Policy, according to an announcement from Washington County Schools Superintendent, Dr. J. Robin Cochran. The district began the initial steps to modify its existing tobacco policy back in December, after district administration recognized the potential impact that a comprehensive tobacco policy could have on the health of the Washington County community.

The old tobacco policy set in place by the district prohibited student used of all tobacco products, including alternative and vapor products, while on property owned or operated by the Washington County Board of Education, inside board-owned vehicles and during school-sponsored trips and activities. It nevertheless allowed employees and visitors to use tobacco outside school-owned and operated buildings in designated areas. The policy didn’t prevent exposure to second-hand smoke or aerosol from electronic products while on school trips or while in attendance at outdoor school functions such as sporting events. The newly issued 100% Tobacco-Free Policy prohibits tobacco use by students, staff and visitors twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, in school buildings, on board-owned property and on student related school trips.

A survey conducted by the district of students, parents and staff indicated that the 58% of students, 72% of parents and 78% of staff were in favor of a 100% Tobacco-Free Policy.  According to a facts sheet compiled by the KTPC, 80% of current adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18, and nearly 3,000 American children start smoking every day.

The district partnered with the Lincoln Trail District Health Department and the Washington on Wellness Coalition to help establish the policy. Cochran, along with Tina Sagrecy, director of college, career and community relations and Chad Willis, director of pupil personnel, and Cabrina Buckman, family and consumer sciences agent at the Washington County Extension Office and chairperson for the Washington on Wellness Coalition, underwent training to implement the program. The grant, in the amount of $5,000, was used for the cost of training by a health educator from the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, and signage and marketing materials for each the schools in the district.

“The Lincoln Trail District Health Department strongly supports Washington County Public Schools’ implementation of a 100% Tobacco-Free School policy,” says Jennifer Osbourne, a health education for the LTHD and for the Marion County Health Department, who conducted the training. “Tobacco-Free School policies reduce youth tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. They also provide consistency with classroom lessons and encourage adults to act as good role models for students. Schools are vital in preventing tobacco use among youth and WCPS has shown their commitment to the safety and well-being of students, staff and visitors by passing this policy.”