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NCTC campuses going tobacco free

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North Central Texas College students returning to the Flower Mound campus and other NCTC campuses after the holiday break will be coming back to a “tobacco-free” environment.

This means that the use of tobacco products of any kind — not only cigarettes, cigars and pipes but also “smokeless” products such as snuff and chewing tobacco — will be prohibited in all buildings and properties that are either owned, rented or leased by the college.

The tobacco prohibition, officially effective Jan. 1, applies not only to students but also to all college employees and campus visitors.

“And the tobacco use ban applies also to the land or grounds associated with college buildings at all campus locations, as well as the college farm, Equine Center arenas and barns, pastures and other acreage,” said Robbie Baugh, NCTC director of campus operations.

Although college parking lots are also to be tobacco-free for pedestrians, Baugh said students, staff and visitors may use tobacco products inside parked and moving vehicles while on campus grounds as long as the vehicles are not owned or operated by NCTC. Tobacco use in college vehicles is also prohibited off campus, whether or not they are in transit.

“The college’s governing board and administration understand that this is not a trivial or easy thing for our students and employees who use tobacco,” Baugh said, “and we are trying to be as sensitive as possible to their feelings.

“However, as the official policy adopted by the board says, we are also committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all the other students, employees and campus visitors who do not smoke or use tobacco.”

Baugh said it was in light of findings of the U.S. Surgeon General that exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke and the use of tobacco products are significant health hazards that the board made its decision to declare all NCTC campuses tobacco-free.

He explained that the board actually voted to institute the tobacco ban back in January 2011, almost a year ago, allowing time for the college to make preparations, to get the word out well in advance and to make resources available for those who might wish to stop smoking or using other tobacco products.

Roxanne DelRio, associate dean of NCTC’s Corinth and Flower Mound campuses, said that fliers, posters and banners announcing the ban have been posted in prominent locations at all campuses throughout the current fall semester.

In addition, she said, announcements have been made in classes, and a website has been put up with additional information and links to smoking and tobacco use cessation programs and resources. To access the website, go online to www.nctc.edu/TobaccoFree.

“We do recognize that giving up smoking or other tobacco products is a very tough thing to do,” DelRio said. “In fact, according to the American Heart Association, nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break.”

According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), DelRio pointed out, nicotine is not the only harmful thing about tobacco. The NIDA website says, in fact, that nicotine is only one of more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are poisonous, found in the smoke from tobacco products.

NIDA says that so-called “smokeless” tobacco products also contain many toxins, as well as high levels of nicotine, and that many of these other ingredients “are things we would never consider putting in our bodies, like tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde and nitrosamines.”

Tar causes lung cancer, emphysema and bronchial diseases, the NIDA website says, adding that carbon monoxide causes heart problems, which is one reason why smokers are at high risk for heart disease.

Baugh said the new NCTC policy is also based in part on evidence that tobacco use influences underage students, not to mention the fact that it accumulates unsightly tobacco litter that’s expensive and troublesome for college custodial and maintenance personnel to keep cleaned up.

“But with all that said,” he stressed, “it is definitely not the college’s intent to ‘preach’ to people or to try to tell them how to live their lives. Our intent is solely to assure clean air for all who come to the college and to provide a safe and healthy environment for the large majority of our students and employees who do not use tobacco.

“We hope that tobacco users will be respectful of the right of their fellow members of the college community to be in a tobacco-free environment.

“But we also hope that those who do not use tobacco products will remind violators of the tobacco-free policy in a courteous and respectful manner.”

Baugh explained that NCTC is not unique in going tobacco-free, joining hundreds of other colleges and universities across the nation that have already done so, and the number of tobacco-free campuses is steadily increasing.

“The reality is that fewer and fewer places permit the use of tobacco products,” Baugh said, “and that’s both in the public and private sectors where worksites and whole municipalities have implemented some form of a smoke-free or tobacco-free policy.”

For information about the NCTC tobacco-free campuses policy, visit www.nctc.edu/TobaccoFree.

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