olonie Central School District is coming to get you.
On Tuesday, May 6, the South Colonie Central School District adopted a new Tobacco-Free Healthy Schools policy to be implemented in the district’s schools and surrounding property.
The new policy is the result of a collaboration between the school district and Capital Region BOCES, said Colonie High School Associate Principal Chris Leahey, the liaison for Tobacco-Free Healthy Schools.
`[BOCES] came and kind of recruited us to do this to update our policy,` said Leahey, `This is one of the things they’re heavily involved with.`
As a result of the new policy, dozens of signs have been placed in the schools, advising children that not only can they not smoke in the buildings, but in areas around the buildings as well.
Leahey said the smoking problem the schools face, however, is not just one of students, but adults who use the grounds as well for athletic events and other activities.
Creating the new policy took some time, according to Leahey. `This all started over a year ago, and in the meantime, we put together a committee working closely with the Capital Region BOCES.`
Tobacco-Free Healthy Schools Coordinator for Albany County Amanda Hooker said the South Colonie Central School District was very cooperative and worked well to achieve an adequate policy which will serve to meet the standards of Albany County.
`It is fantastic that the school district is encouraging the school community to be tobacco-free as this behavior has many positive effects on academics and athletics,` she said.
The policy itself contains many similar elements to the previous policy: it states that faculty, students and visitors are not permitted to use tobacco on the school property.
However, the policy also provides contact information for help quitting the use of tobacco products.
`The policy also encourages students, staff and visitors to be directed to cessation programs if they desire to quit using tobacco,` said Hooker.
Phone numbers for hot lines of these programs have also been distributed on palm cards that were handed out a football games, said Leahey.
Also changed on the new policy is the expansion of the term `tobacco.`
John Noetzel, spokesman for the South Colonie Schools, said, `The tobacco free policy is much more comprehensive.`
Noetzel added that the plan includes chewing tobacco and other, smokeless items. `I think a lot of people know [chewing tobacco] is a popular tobacco today. That’s just my opinion,` he said.
Leahey said, so far, not one person has expressed opposition to the new policy. `Even people who smoke realize what it’s all about,` he said, `There’s no real, that I know of, coalition or organized group of people that would assemble and speak out against this.`
Noetzel said there were `lots of loopholes` in the previous policy, such as the exemption of smokeless tobaccos, but that these loopholes have been addressed in the new policy.
According to Leahey, though Capital Region BOCES and the South Colonie Central School District are proud of the work that was done to produce the new policy, there is more work to be done.
Part of the continuation of work on the policy is a committee that will meet `a few times per semester,` as needed, according to Leahey, and discuss further ways the group can work together to improve the smoking situation in the South Colonie schools.
`We’re not done,` said Leahey, `We’re going to continue meeting and continue looking at things we can do to combat students’ use of tobacco products and not just students but also other people who use our facility.`