Presented by Amalio Nieves
Director of Diversity, Cultural Outreach & Prevention
Broward County Public Schools is committed to ensuring our children and employees are healthy and live in healthy communities. As part of this effort, one goal of the District is to make certain our schools and workplaces are tobacco-free. Adopting a tobacco-free environment provides a safe, healthy place for people to work and stakeholders to visit, while supporting a healthy bottom line for the workplace.
On May 6, 2014, the School Board of Broward County approved Policy 2401: Tobacco-Free Policy, which goes into effect on July 1, 2014. This Policy prohibits all tobacco use anytime, anywhere, by anyone on any school district owned property. This includes all school-sponsored events after regular school hours.
The School Board has adopted this policy change for several reasons. A tobacco free environment:
1. Serves as a positive model for students
2. Reduces children's observation of tobacco use
3. Takes a firm District-wide stance against tobacco use
4. Supports non-use/prevention messages presented in the classroom
5. Provides safe environments for students, employees and adults by reducing
exposure to tobacco smoke
6. Protects children from a harmful and addictive drug
7. Prepares students for the realities of smoke-free workplaces and communities
8. Encourages our communities to make healthier choices
Tobacco use is the single leading cause of preventable death and disease in our country. Ninety percent of adults who are addicted to tobacco began before the age of 18, with the average age of initiation between 12 and 14 years. Most parents, even those who use tobacco, do not want their children to become addicted. Youth spend a great deal of their time at school and school-related events. Allowing the use of tobacco products on campus implies school approval of such use. Keeping tobacco free means students have less opportunity to see their friends, teachers and other employees using tobacco, and less access to tobacco products. This means students will be less likely to try, and possibly become addicted to tobacco.
Additionally, exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack or exacerbate respiratory problems. Clusters of employees and visitors smoking outside near building entrances or at school sponsored events place others at risk.
Implementing a new smoke-free workplace policy creates questions and concerns on the part of employees. Additional communication concerning this policy will be made available over the next several months. Students, employees and visitors will be informed of current tobacco education and cessation classes; everyone will also be provided information regarding nicotine replacement therapy for those who use tobacco and want to stop.
The School Board of Broward County is confident that through everyone’s participation, a healthier environment for our staff, students and community can be secured. The new Tobacco-Free Policy and additional information can be found at BrowardPrevention.org or TobaccoFreeFlorida.com.