11/01/07 — Schools ready to implement tobacco-free policies in 2008

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Schools ready to implement tobacco-free policies in 2008

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 1, 2007 1:51 PM

As the public schools move closer to becoming "tobacco-free", signs have been posted in the central office and individual schools.

The advance notice is designed to alert the community that, effective Aug. 1, 2008, the district will no longer allow smoking on any school grounds.

The tobacco-free policy received legislative approval in the spring, with August as the target date for school systems to implement it.

In April, the school board announced it would comply with the state law. Prior to that, the Board of Health had also lent support to the measure, citing other districts in surrounding counties with similar policies.

Sprunt Hill, special assistant to the superintendent for auxiliary services, said Wayne County was financially aided in the transition when it became one of four counties chosen to receive a $1,500 grant. Through the "Question Why" program, the funding will assist with signage and education to parents, employees and staff about the change.

The first focus will on students and employees, Derksen said, then broadened to include the public "so they'll know when they visit a school, it is tobacco-free."

Signs have already been posted in the schools, as well as the administrative offices, said Ken Derksen, public information officer. Additional metal signs are also expected to be posted later this summer, and announcements will be made prior to athletic events, he said.

The idea is to begin spreading the word early so that by the time the policy goes into effect, everyone will be on board.

"We're trying to do an education campaign so it's no surprise next summer," he said.

Students from several high schools have already begun meeting to discuss ways to heighten awareness of the policy and the rationale behind it.

"They'll be doing some character education pieces to help students and staff make wise choices. Some will be bringing in speakers who are cancer survivors," Derksen said. "There will also be programs available to help those who want to quit smoking."