Most west Kentucky public schools not 100 percent tobacco free

Most Kentucky school districts in our area are not 100 percent tobacco free. A new survey shows smoking among high schoolers in the state is down 10 percent from 10 years ago.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is urging more schools to become tobacco free, meaning smoking is not allowed for anyone on school grounds 24/7. The cabinet’s research indicates that would curb smoking among high school students by an additional 30 percent.

Graves County Schools, like most districts in the Local 6 area, allow faculty, parents, and visitors of legal age to smoke in designated areas.

Allye Darnell is a senior at GCHS. She’s going to college next year on a full soccer scholarship. “Staying in shape is a big part of it with soccer, because you run 80 minutes a game,” Darnell said. That’s one of the reasons she isn’t tempted to smoke. She said she’s seen a small number of friends picking up the habit, though.

When Christy Puckett began at the school as a teacher in 1990, she said, smoking was much more prevalent. “A 16 year old could still buy cigarettes,” she said. She attributes less smoking to a change in culture. She believes things like a decrease in advertising and more awareness about what it can do to your health have led to more students making better decisions.

Although visitors and faculty have designated smoking area, students will face disciplinary action if they have or use tobacco products anywhere on school property.

By law, schools cannot allow students to smoke on campus. It is the district’s decision whether to allow designated smoking for other adults.

A map we’ve included with this story shows which districts are 100 percent smoke free. The only two listed in our area are Murray Independent Schools and Marshall County Schools. I did confirm with McCracken County Schools that they, too, are tobacco-free. 

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