JCPS soon will be tobacco-free
To ensure a healthy learning environment, the members of the Jefferson County Board of Education voted unanimously on November 26 to approve a new tobacco-free policy for the entire Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) District.
For many years, JCPS has had a policy that prohibits smoking and other forms of tobacco use by students. They are not allowed to even carry or possess tobacco products on district property or at school functions.
The new policy, which will go into effect on Monday, July 1, 2013, will apply to everyone, including JCPS employees and parents. No one will be allowed to smoke cigarettes or use any other tobacco products on JCPS property or in district vehicles. The policy will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This 100 percent tobacco-free policy will ensure that students aren’t exposed to secondhand smoke, a leading trigger of asthma attacks (and asthma is one of the top reasons students miss school). The policy also will support health lessons taught in JCPS classrooms, and it will prepare students for workplaces with tobacco-free policies.
In addition, a comprehensive policy may help reduce the number of teens who smoke outside of school. Schools that have a tobacco-free policy have 40 percent fewer youth smokers than those that don’t. The new JCPS policy may even reduce the number of Louisvillians who smoke in the future. Research shows that 90 percent of people who stay away from cigarettes before they turn 18 will not start smoking later in life.
The new policy also will ensure that all adults model a tobacco-free lifestyle on JCPS property. When students see adults smoking, they think it’s okay for them to smoke too—no matter how often we tell them it’s dangerous. The Kentucky Department for Public Health points out that “we cannot send mixed signals [by allowing adults to smoke] in our learning environments. In order to be effective, there must be no exceptions.”
Donna M. Hargens, Ed.D.
Jefferson County Public Schools
Chairwoman, Jefferson County Board of Education
Jefferson County Teachers Association
Jefferson County Association of School Administrators
Jefferson County Nutrition Services Association
15th District PTA
Teamsters Local 783
Service Employees International Union
Plant Operators Association
Is the new policy just for employees?
No. The policy is for everyone—parents, students, and visitors as well as district employees—when they are on JCPS property.
Will JCPS schools or offices have smoking areas for adults?
No. Smoking will be completely prohibited not only in JCPS facilities and vehicles but also on all district grounds.
Will the policy prohibit smoking after school hours?
Yes. Smoking and other forms of tobacco use will be prohibited 24/7.
Will smoking be allowed at outdoor school events?
No. Smoking will be prohibited even at such outdoor events as football games—even in the parking lot.
Can adults smoke if they are away from school on field trips?
No. Adults will not be allowed to use tobacco products when students are present even if they are away from school property.
Will the new policy apply to community groups that use JCPS facilities?
Yes. Members of community groups will not be allowed to use tobacco products on JCPS property even after school hours.
Why is it important to make JCPS schools and offices 100 percent tobacco-free?
A comprehensive policy ensures that students are not exposed to secondhand smoke. It also helps reduce youth smoking and ensures that adults model a tobacco-free lifestyle, which is especially important considering these statistics:
- The average age when someone first tries tobacco is 13.
- About 3,000 children in the United States start smoking every day.
- About half of all teens who experiment with tobacco become addicted to nicotine.
- Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death in Kentucky and across the nation.
- More deaths are caused every year by tobacco use than by all deaths from car crashes, illegal drug use, alcohol, murders, and suicides combined.
The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and the Kentucky Cancer Program offer free stop-smoking classes. They include 12 one-hour, weekly sessions and relapse prevention. At most classes, materials and nicotine replacement products, as well as the classes themselves, are free. Click here for more information.