Grant schools become tobacco free on July 1

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By Bryan Marshall

All Grant County Schools’ campuses and property will be tobacco-free beginning July 1 after a new policy was adopted May 10 by the school board.
The policy is all-inclusive, including all individuals; all board-owned properties; all board-owned, leased or rented vehicles; all school activities (on or off campus); all hours of the day and all days of the week.
“This is a decision that will make some people very happy, and others not so pleased, but ultimately the determining factor is very simply our duty to the health and well-being of our students, staff, and the public visiting our campuses,” said Grant County School Board Chairperson Richard Bredenberg.
The new policy is in a spirit of cooperation with efforts being made by the Kentucky Department of Education, the Kentucky School Boards Association and the Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department.
The 100 percent Tobacco-Free School (TFS) policy has been heavily advocated by Dr. Terry Holliday, commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Education.
In a June 2011 letter, Holliday encouraged superintendents that a tobacco-free policy provides an opportunity for adults to serve as role models to students.
“A 2003 study found that students were more likely to smoke in locations where they saw other students and adults smoking,” the letter stated. “In addition, youth look to adults they respect, such as teachers and school staff, as role models.”
Williamstown Independent Schools also became a tobacco-free campus in August 2011.
A contributing factor in the board’s decision was the commitment by the Grant County Local Board of Health to continue their $78,000 contribution for school nurses based upon the implementation of a 24/7, 100 percent Tobacco-Free School policy.
“We are pleased that a partnership with the Local Board of Health has provided assistance for the placement of nurses in each of our schools during the past several years,” Bredenberg said. “Our board further recognizes the well-documented, detrimental effect of tobacco use and second-hand smoke. As educators and leaders in the community, it is appropriate that we move now to ensure the best possible environment and the best possible services for our students.”
The new policies also call for tobacco education and cessation opportunities for students, staff, and the community at large.
Information regarding services and products that may assist individuals in their choice to either quit tobacco use, or simply modify its use are available from Rhonda Schlueter, district health coordinator, and on the district’s web site at www.grant.kyschools.us/TobaccoFreeCampuses.aspx.