Tuesday, August 12, 2008

100% Tobacco Free

RALEIGH, N.C. - “No smoking or use of tobacco products will be permitted in any College facilities or vehicles or on any campus grounds …” So begins Wake Tech’s “tobacco-free” policy, launched in 2007. By the end of this week, that policy will be standard operating procedure at all Wake Tech campuses and training centers. Wake Tech will be 100% tobacco free on August 1, when the college’s Main Campus becomes the last Wake Tech campus to put the tobacco-free ruling into effect.

President Stephen C. Scott and the Board of Trustees resolved to eliminate smoking and tobacco products on all Wake Tech campuses more than a year ago; they have been systematically putting the new policy into effect on Wake Tech campuses since then.

“We recognize that the use of tobacco products is not only a health hazard, but a practice that poses serious safety and environmental risks as well,” said Dr. Scott. “We believe that prohibiting the use of tobacco at Wake Tech is a vital step in providing the healthy learning and working environment we want for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.”

The policy is one part of a comprehensive health promotion program that includes education, prevention, cessation support, and policy reform that has long been a priority for Wake Tech’s administration. Wake Tech is a recognized leader in training the region’s nurses and allied health care providers.

The NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission awarded Wake Tech $75,000 to help bring about significant change college wide. The grant funds have been used to hire a full-time Health and Wellness Coordinator to oversee and promote the tobacco-free policy, as well as other health initiatives, across all campuses. Grant funds have also made it possible for Wake Tech to offer free smoking cessation programs each semester for those who want to kick the habit. Faculty and staff members were trained by the American Lung Association to facilitate the 8-week cessation program sessions.

The Northern Wake Campus opened in August 2007 as a totally tobacco-free campus. In January of this year, the new Public Safety Training Center followed suit when it opened, and Wake Tech’s Western Wake and Health Sciences campuses officially became tobacco free at that time as well.

Voluntary compliance will be emphasized for the first year that the new policy is in place. After that, students who violate the policy could receive a fine or be required to perform community service on campus. Employees could be subject to a written reprimand, probation, or termination.