News and Events

The Importance of Creating Tobacco-Free Campuses
Tracy DeCubellis, M.S., March 10, 2014

It is no secret that tobacco use is harmful to human health. Even elementary age children I speak with tell me that smoking or dipping is a bad habit, or that it will hurt people.  Despite the fact that even our youngest citizens know that using tobacco is harmful, it is still a practice that occurs even during work hours.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), tobacco use in the workplace actually accounts for the most lost worker productivity compared to other causes such as family emergencies or alcohol abuse (1). Since most smokers want to quit, up to 70% according to the CDC, workplaces that create a smoke-free campus policy could actually be doing their employees a favor in helping them become tobacco-free(2).

Businesses that create tobacco-free campus policies not only protect the health and wellbeing of non-smoking employees and customers, patients, or clients, but they also create pro-health social norms.  This type of campus wide policy may actually go a long way to encourage employees who use tobacco to quit the habit, especially if the campus tobacco-free policy includes cessation help for those who currently smoke or use smokeless tobacco products.

Gilchrist Tobacco Free Signs

In Gilchrist County, the Tobacco Free Partnership has been working with businesses and community organizations to assist them with tobacco-free campus policies.  Last fall, the Gilchrist County Health Department instituted a smoke-free and e-cigarette policy for their campus.  This month, Grace Ministries in Bell has been working with the Tobacco Free Partnership to create a smoke-free and e-cigarette free policy at their ranch, and at their thrift store in Bell as well.  Businesses and community organizations who take this step are also impacting the community by creating new social norms, suggesting that being tobacco-free is the norm, even in the workplace.

Gilchrist County has a higher than average adult and youth smoking rate compared to their peers around the state.  Everyone must work together to improve the health of Gilchrist County residents, and businesses can play a big part in setting new tobacco-free norms in the community.  Imagine if young people went to Gilchrist County stores, restaurants, and medical offices and saw a uniform message that these places are considered tobacco-free campuses.  What message would that send to the youth of the community about tobacco use? 

Each owner or manager of a business or community organization has the ability to take a small step to not only improve the health and lives of employees and customers through tobacco-free policies, but to also impact the next generation of Gilchrist County youth to be tobacco-free. 

For more information or for help in creating a tobacco-free campus policy, please contact the Tobacco Free Partnership at