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Students Working Against Tobacco Help Pass Primary and Secondary Tobacco-Free Policies

By Deanna Krautner

June 25, 2015

Students Working Against Tobacco Vision a Tobacco-Free Future 

New Port Richey—While smoking is banned inside school buildings, not all school districts in Florida restrict smoking and tobacco use on all of their properties or during events. A tobacco-free school is an initiative to create smoke-free campuses for public schools within Pasco County and is a growing trend throughout the state.

Out of 78 schools, 32 were built after 1996 and were designated as tobacco-free. The remaining 46 were built prior 1996 and permitted faculty to smoke in designated areas on campus. As of July 1, 2016, all Pasco County Schools’ campuses including all owned or leased school buildings, grounds, campuses, housing, and property (including vehicles and buses) will be 100% tobacco-free. This change was a collaborative effort between Pasco County Schools, the School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), the Tobacco Free Partnership of Pasco County (TFPP), and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT).

“The SWAT Chapter here is dedicated to changing the cultural norms around tobacco use here in Pasco County,” said Dylan Theoy, SWAT Student Advisory Board Member.  “Our ultimate goal is to have a tobacco-free future.”

Comprehensive tobacco-free school policies are an important step in building a healthier future. These policies create a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty, and staff by eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke and discouraging youth and young adults from starting to use tobacco.

In addition to presenting at School Board meetings, SWAT and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Pasco collected surveys from school staff, administrators, parents, and students regarding their willingness to go tobacco-free,” explained Mykenzie Robertson, Vice Chair of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Pasco County.

Students spend 50% of their time in school where school-based relationships can have a great impact on student behavior. In a letter written from SHAC to the School Board Members of Pasco County, the Committee said, “If students do not see their teachers and coaches using tobacco, they will be less likely to view tobacco use as a socially appropriate activity, and therefore be less likely to use tobacco products.”

In addition to creating a healthier environment for Pasco students, Pasco County Schools has partnered with both the Florida Department of Health and The Tobacco Free Partnership of Pasco to offer resources to help employees ease into the process of becoming tobacco-free by July 2016. On average, it takes 8-11 quit attempts for a tobacco user to successfully quit. The new policy creates a supportive workplace culture that offers proven tobacco cessation resources and motivates employees to succeed in quitting.

As a community you can show your support for a healthy learning environment for our students by informing others about the upcoming changes, promoting Tobacco Free Florida’s 3 Free and Easy Ways to Quit, or joining the Tobacco Free Partnership of Pasco County. For more information about joining the Partnership or Tobacco Free Florida, contact your Tobacco Free Florida county representative, Georgia Brieck at Georgia.Brieck@flhealth.gov or visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/county/pasco.

About the Tobacco Free Partnership of Pasco County

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Pasco County is a diverse and dedicated group of partners who share an interest or passion for tobacco prevention and control. This coalition partners with SWAT and the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County to build awareness of tobacco issues, build relationships with local and state policy makers, expand community support, and keep the conversation about tobacco issues alive!