Tobacco-free schools important part of preventing child tobacco use

Now that school has started across North Dakota, the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy (the Center) and First District Health Unit wants to remind the public that the comprehensive tobacco-free policy in the schools is vital to prevent children from using tobacco and to protect them from the harmful effects of tobacco use.

The Center uses The Center for Disease Control and Prevention-approved policies and programs that are proven to keep kids from using tobacco, including promoting tobacco-free school districts and communities. According to Jeanne Prom, executive director of the Center, tobacco-free policies shape how the younger generation perceives tobacco use.

“If our community sends the message that tobacco use is undesirable, our children are less likely to start using tobacco,” Prom said. “This is as important as ever because the tobacco industry continues to introduce new nicotine products not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which means that tobacco companies can advertise and sell these products without age or other restrictions.”

Currently, 129 school districts in North Dakota have implemented comprehensive tobacco-free policies that prohibit all tobacco use on school grounds or at school events. That means 60 percent of school children in North Dakota are protected from the dangers of tobacco use.

According to tobacco prevention coordinator, Mary Hanretty, the schools in the First District Health Unit service area (the counties of Bottineau, Burke, McHenry, McLean, Renville, Sheridan and Ward) that have a comprehensive tobacco-free school policy include: Anamoose, Bottineau, Bowbells, Drake, Kenmare, McClusky, Minot Public Schools, Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood, Nedrose, Newburg, Surrey, Towner-Granville-Upham, Turtle Lake-Mercer, United Public DLB, Velva, Washburn, Westhope and Wilton.

Special congratulations is extended to the Wilton school district for most recently adopting a comprehensive tobacco policy.

To learn more about tobacco-free school districts and preventing tobacco use, contact First District Health Unit at 852-1376 or go to (breathend.com) to see a complete list of the schools in North Dakota who have comprehensive tobacco-free policies.

Jill Hambek