CCCC going tobacco-free
SANFORD — Welcome to tobacco-free Central Carolina Community College.
Well, not quite yet — but it’s coming. As of Jan. 1, smoking, chewing and any other tobacco use will be out at the college; clean air for everyone will be in.
At its July meeting, the college’s board of trustees passed a “100% Tobacco Free Campus Policy,” for all campuses, centers, and other facilities under the college’s control in Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties.
“The college is committed to providing its students and employees with a safe and healthful environment,” said Dr. Bud Marchant, college president. “Many community colleges and other institutions have already gone tobacco-free. This is an important way we can provide a more healthful environment.”
According to the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund’s web site, www.healthwellnc.com, “Tobacco use has been identified as the number one preventable cause of premature death and disease in the country. Nearly 28 percent of all 18-24-year-olds in North Carolina smoke and this is the only age group nationally in which smoking rates are increasing.”
The effort to eliminate tobacco use at educational institutions was given a major impetus in 2005 when the NCHWTF kicked off a college non-smoking campaign, in which the state’s 58 community colleges took part.
The tobacco-free effort was given a legal foundation when, in 2006, the General Assembly adopted legislation exempting community colleges from a law requiring public institutions to set aside areas for tobacco use. Also in 2006, the NCWHTF established its Tobacco Free Colleges Initiative to promote tobacco-free institutions.
Among the community colleges that are already tobacco-free or, like Central Carolina, have passed policies to become so, are Asheville-Buncombe Technical, Cleveland, Guilford Technical, Haywood, Pitt, Roanoke-Chowan, Stanly, Wake Technical, and Wilkes.
The implementation date at Central Carolina Community College has been set at Jan. 1 to allow students, faculty and staff time to adjust to the new policy. Central Carolina’s Student Government Association is already spreading the word among the students about the up-coming ban. It’s been addressed at SGA meetings and a brochure has been developed with pertinent information. Reaction to the coming ban has been mixed.
“I smoke a half-pack a day, but I understand why the college made the decision it did,” said student Tanya Haislip, of Cameron, SGA vice-president for Lee County and a business administration major. “I ask the students to abide by it because it is school policy.”
Tanesha Williams, of Dunn, an early childhood education student at the college’s Harnett County Campus, said she is glad tobacco is being banned.
“I’m a non-smoker and I get a headache when I walk outside and there’s smoke,” Williams said. “Even if a person smokes outside or in their car, their clothes still smell like smoke. As an ECE major, I think of the young children — they might be allergic, but a smoker working with them might not know it.”
Students Tonyia Adcock, of Siler City, secretary of the college’s SGA in Chatham County, and Andy Gietzen, of Sanford, are both non-smokers, but have mixed feelings about the coming ban. Both said most complaints about tobacco on campus were because smokers tend to gather near building entryways. Anyone entering couldn’t get away from the smoke. Both said they would have preferred designated areas for smokers, away from the buildings.
The college had designated areas at its Chatham and Harnett campuses, even building a gazebo at Harnett for smokers to use. Those efforts didn’t succeed because smokers felt they weren’t convenient to their class buildings.
Some students and staff see the ban as an opportunity to quit smoking, said Dr. Karen Allen, the college’s Chatham County provost.
“Several have mentioned to me that they’ve been waiting for a reason to do so,” she said. “We want to point them to opportunities to go to smoke-free classes, if they desire. In addition, I hope the ban will help to ‘green’ our facilities, to make them cleaner. We want to set a good example for the community.”
For those who want to use the ban as a spur to give up tobacco, the college recommends the NCHWTF Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW. This toll-free number will connect them with trained counselors who can assist. The Quitline is available 8 a.m.-midnight. More information about the college’s policy is available at www.cccc.edu/tobaccofree, or Student Services, (919) 718-7279.
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