All KCTCS campuses will ban use of tobacco products by end of 2015

All campuses of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System will be tobacco-free by the end of next year, officials announced Thursday.

Starting Jan. 1, the KCTCS headquarters in Versailles will ban tobacco products for all staff and visitors. Smoking-cessation classes will be offered to office workers Jan. 15 through April 9.

Some KCTCS colleges are already tobacco-free, including 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.

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.

Gov. Steve Beshear issued an executive order to ban tobacco products starting Thursday on all property under control of the executive branch of government, and encouraged educational entities to follow suit.

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.

"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 in a statement. "Becoming tobacco-free will create a healthier working and learning environment for faculty, staff, students, vendors, contractors and visitors."