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Smoke-free community college movement continues to grow

When classes resume Jan. 11 at Central Carolina Technical College in Sumter, South Carolina, students and faculty will join the growing ranks of community colleges that are going smoke free.

“The health benefits of reducing secondhand smoke exposure are invaluable and could also help students prepare for the workforce where smoke-free policies are already the norm,” Terry Booth, vice president of business affairs and chair of the college’s Wellness Team, said when the college first partnered with Truth Initiative to go smoke-free.

Truth Initiative has awarded $274,730 in grants to 54 public community colleges in 25 states. Each community college received up to $5,000 per year to advocate for, adopt, and implement a 100 percent smoke-free or tobacco-free policy. Those campuses serve 586,386 students and touch nearly 45,000 faculty and staff.

The number of smoke-free colleges has tripled since 2010.

Students and faculty at East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi, became part of that movement when spring semester began on Jan. 6.

“There are obvious health risks associated with those who smoke and use tobacco products, but also those who are exposed to second-hand smoke,” ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart said. "This policy will help us to provide a healthier learning environment not only for our students and employees, but our campus visitors.”