by jamesc 7/25/2014 10:54:46 AM --
NORFOLK – Effective August 1, Northeast Community College will become tobacco free. The College Board of Governors voted recently to approve a change from a smoke free policy to a tobacco free policy.
“We are changing the focus from being a non-smoking college to being a tobacco free institution,” said Dr. Karen Severson, vice president of student services. “We have worked with all employee groups, student groups, classes, and others over the past year-and-a-half half on this new initiative. Over the summer, we have also spoken with incoming students during new student registration and will continue those conversations with students during fall orientation so they are aware of the change.”
Presently, the College’s smoke free policy prohibits smoking inside or within ten feet of college buildings. The new policy includes outdoor areas on Northeast’s four campuses in Norfolk, O’Neill, South Sioux City and West Point and inside vehicles on college property. Items impacted by the new tobacco free policy include cigarettes, cigars and pipes; smokeless tobacco products; e-cigarettes and other vaping devices; and other products intended to imitate tobacco or deliver nicotine. Tobacco cessation devices are the only exception.
Dr. Michael Chipps, college president, said this is not that unusual of a policy as more and more places, such as Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk and other businesses, have instituted such guidelines. “It creates better health, wellness and a healthy environment at the College,” he said.
Northeast Community College is joining with other higher education institutions across the country in moving toward eliminating tobacco materials from their property. Presently, there are approximately 1,400 100-percent smoke-free campuses in the United States, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Of these, 938 are 100-percent tobacco-free, and 176 prohibit the use of e-cigarettes anywhere on campus.
“The primary premise of a tobacco-free policy relates to the message of ‘respect for others, respect for yourself, and respect for your environment,” Severson said. “This is also an opportunity for us to prepare our students to work in a tobacco free workplace. We are seeing such polices more and more, and it’s our responsibility as an educational institution to prepare our students for tobacco free environments.”
Severson said those who use tobacco products on college property will be educated about the policy and asked to refrain from using tobacco products. She said the College has also produced small business-type cards that will help explain the policy to everyone.
A sign stands near an entrance to the Northeast Community College College Welcome Center explaining a new tobacco-free policy at the institution. The policy, which takes effect August 1, includes the College’s campuses in Norfolk, O’Neill, West Point and South Sioux City.