Belt & Centerville: Tobacco Free Schools

Two local school districts, Belt and Centerville, have received recognition as a Tobacco Free School District of Excellence by the Office of Public Instruction Superintendent Denise Juneau and will be highlighted among a growing number of Montana districts for exceptional school policy efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use as part of the Montana Tobacco Free Excellence Initiative.

Superintendent Juneau commended Belt and Centerville Districts stating, “Preventing Montana students from using tobacco is an investment in their health now and into the future. By becoming a Tobacco Free School District of Excellence these districts are taking a leading role in reducing tobacco use amongst young people.”

According to the 2009 Montana Youth Behavior Survey, 50% of Montant high school students have tried cigarettes, and rates of smokeless tobacco use among high school boys is among the highest in the nation. School programs to prevent youth tobacco use can make a major contribution to the health of the state and nation, particularly when these programs are combined with family and community efforts.

Tobacco Free School Districts of Excellence have adopted policies beyond the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act to include: prohibiting all forms of tobacco use on school property, including off campus school-sponsored events; providing tobacco use prevention teacher training and student education; prohibiting tobacco industry advertising and providing referral information for students, faculty and staff who want to quit.

The adoption of a comprehensive tobacco free policy is part of a national trend based on research and practice to achieve national health and educational goals. These Tobacco Free School Districts of Excellence will receive official recognition at their April School Board meetings, including new tobacco free signage to be displayed at schools and events, as well as resources and technical assistance from OPI.

For more information on tobacco free schools, visit www.opi.mt.gov/tobaccoed.

To learn more about tobacco use, prevention and quitting visit CCHD’s Tobacco Use Prevention Program.