KENTUCKY — The Kentucky Community and Technical College System will kick off its tobacco-free campaign today as people around the state and nation participate in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout.

The KCTCS System Office in Versailles will enforce the ban on Jan. 1 for all staff and visitors. Smoking cessation classes will be offered to System Office employees Jan. 15 through

April 9. Several KCTCS colleges already are tobacco-free and the others will become tobacco-free in 2015.

Kentucky has the highest rate of adult smokers in the U.S., the sixth highest rate of youth smoking and leads the nation in cancer deaths. Other forms of tobacco also are linked to a variety of cancers, and e-cigarettes pose other serious health risks related to the release of harmful chemicals.

“Tobacco products have a deadly grip on thousands of Kentuckians and are the single biggest causes of preventable illness and death in our state,” KCTCS President Michael B. McCall said. “Becoming tobacco-free will create a healthier working and learning environment for faculty, staff, students, vendors, contractors and visitors.”

KCTCS colleges that are tobacco-free include, Ashland Community and Technical College, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Gateway Community and Technical College, Hopkinsville Community College, Madisonville Community College, Maysville Community and Technical College and Owensboro Community and Technical College.

In addition the System Office, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and Jefferson Community and Technical College will go tobacco-free in January.

Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Hazard Community and Technical College, Henderson Community College, Somerset Community College, Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and West Kentucky Community and Technical College will become tobacco-free at various times next year.

Recently, Gov. Steve Beshear issued an executive order to ban all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, on properties owned or leased by the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet.

Although educational institutions are not included in the ban, the governor encouraged them to participate.

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