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East Central College will become tobacco-free, effective January 1, 2013.  District trustees voted Monday, December 5, to implement the policy at all college locations. 

 

“As an educational institution, we have an obligation to lead the way in matters of health awareness and education,” said Cookie Hays, vice president of student development.  “We are committed to providing our students, employees and visitors with a safe and healthy environment.” 

 

The new policy states that usage of all tobacco products will be prohibited on all properties owned or leased by the College, including facilities, buildings, parking lots, athletic fields and common areas.  The term “tobacco products” shall include eCigarettes, hookah and such other smoking-related substances and products as the College chooses to prohibit.  The policy will apply to all faculty, staff, students, employees, contractors, performers and visitors.

 

Hays said the College is announcing the policy change well in advance of its implementation to give students and employees who use tobacco products plenty of time to decide how to adapt to this change.  “We will provide assistance in a variety of ways, including smoking cessation programs, to help students, faculty members and staff adjust.

 

A task force comprised of students, faculty and staff has been meeting since August to develop a process and timeline for implementation.  ECC’s Student Government Association and Phi Theta Kappa honor society chapter have also adopted the project as goals for the coming year.  Brad Bruns, director of student activities, noted those two student organizations will play a significant role in presenting the plan to students and addressing individual concerns.  “Second hand smoke and the litter created with cigarettes have been an issue on campus for several years,” said Bruns.

 

The transition to a tobacco-free environment is an action project of ECC’s Academic Quality Improvement Process

 

ECC’s main campus in Union and location in Sullivan are already smoke-free inside buildings.  Students there can only smoke in designated areas outside the buildings.  Off-campus sites in Washington, Rolla and Warrenton are housed at facilities owned by the school districts and those locations do not allow smoking

 

Bruns stated when the policy goes into effect in 2013, ECC will not be blazing a new trail.  A recent issue of the Community College Times stated that an estimated 500 colleges and universities in the U.S. are already smoke/tobacco free.

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