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Improving student health behind Elizabethtown Ind. moves to tobacco-free campuses, policy that any foods given out as rewards meet nutritional guidelines

News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Aug. 7, 2015

EIS goes tobacco-free, encourages non-food treats
By Anna Taylor

Elizabethtown Independent Schools have adopted new policies for the new school year in an effort to improve students’ overall health and wellness.

“We’ll be going totally tobacco-free on our campuses,” said EIS Superintendent Jon Ballard. “That will be in all of our policies whether it’s students, staff or visitors. That will include e-cigarettes that have obviously become more and more popular.”

The EIS Board of Education voted to approve the policy changes at July’s monthly meeting. The district is awaiting state recognition of the tobacco-free district, but the policies are effective immediately.

So far, 45 other Kentucky school districts, or 26 percent of districts, already have made their campuses tobacco-free. This includes 546 schools.

The tobacco-free policy prohibits students, staff and visitors from using tobacco products, including vapor and alternative nicotine products, inside school board-owned buildings or vehicles, on school-owned property and during school-sponsored student trips and activities. The student policy also includes students not being permitted to use tobacco products, alternative nicotine or vapor products on the way to and from school.
Hardin and LaRue Counties’ school districts also are tobacco-free.

Tobacco-free schools are a key component of Gov. Steve Beshear’s Kentucky Health Now initiative, which aims to reduce Kentucky’s smoking rate 10 percent by 2019.

Another policy change for EIS this year is with student rewards.

The policy encourages student rewards be something other than food or beverages.

The policy states: “When food/beverage items are used as rewards, such items shall comply with nutritional guidelines set out in Kentucky Administrative Regulation. Foods brought in for student consumption should also meet nutritional guidelines set out in Kentucky Administrative Regulation.”

“We’re going to try to express the importance of any foods that are brought into our schools that they also meet the nutritional guidelines of the Kentucky administrative regulations,” Ballard said. “For parties, birthday parties or whatever the case may be, we’re going to try to get away from using food as a reward first of all, but also that food that is brought in hopefully will meet those nutritional guidelines as well.”

Stefanie Goff, director of community planning and education for the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, said the policy changes are ways to promote a healthier environment at schools for student learning.

“We are working with the schools to keep the children healthier,” Goff said. “Children who are healthier have higher attendance rates and improved test scores. They also have fewer behavior problems. This in turn leads to improved education and increased graduation rates.”

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