The CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health recommends a policy that prohibits tobacco use by students, all school staff, parents and visitors on school property, including school vehicles and at school-sponsored events off campus. Currently, only five states – Arizona, Delaware, Mississippi, Oregon and West Virginia – have laws or policies that fully meet these criteria.
“While West Virginia has one of the highest tobacco use rates, I know that we are doing our part to help curb teen tobacco use,” said State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “Since 2000, we have experienced a 27.8 percent decrease in the number of high school students who smoke cigarettes and a 55 percent decrease of students smoking on school property. This is proof that our policies and programs are working.”
Beginning in 1990s, the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Healthy Schools committed to developing a researched-based school policy. It formed a partnership with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), West Virginia Bureau of Public Health (BPH), Division of Tobacco Prevention and West Virginia University’s Prevention Research Center, which surveyed school principals statewide on West Virginia’s tobacco policy.
The survey resulted in a CDC-compliant revision of state policy – and all 55 county policies – in one year. The Department of Education further increased efforts to promote an educational, rather than a punitive, approach to tobacco control and to focus on teen smoking cessation. This resulted in the evidence-based Not-On-Tobacco (NOT) teen cessation program, which is available in most high schools in West Virginia. Finally, it implemented an ongoing, statewide partnership for school-based tobacco control.
In addition to the five states that meet all of the criteria, 10 other states prohibit student, staff and visitor use of tobacco anywhere on school grounds, but their policies do not fully address all of the CDC criteria.
"DHHR, BPH and the Division of Tobacco Prevention remain very proud of our collaborative, nationally recognized efforts with the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Healthy Schools,” said DHHR Secretary Martha Walker. “We are glad that our youth and school tobacco prevention efforts continue to be successful, and endeavor to sustain this success in other much needed areas of tobacco prevention and cessation for all West Virginians."
For more information regarding tobacco prevention, please contact the WVDE’s Office of Healthy Schools at (304) 558-8830, or visit http://wvde.state.wv.us/osshp/main.