County health department offers workshop in creating tobacco-free school policy Oct. 14 | MyWindsorNow.com

County health department offers workshop in creating tobacco-free school policy Oct. 14

Allison Dyer Bluemel
abluemel@greeleytribune.com

After a three-year absence, the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment will bring back a free workshop on constructing effective tobacco-free school programs next month.

The workshop — Free Constructing Effective Tobacco-Free Schools Policy Training — will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, 1555 N. 17th Ave. in Greeley.

The department will provide lunch and reimburse individuals traveling from outside the Greeley and Evans area.

"Community programs and school policies and interventions that encourage tobacco-free environments and lifestyles have been shown to reduce and prevent youth tobacco use," according to a news release from the health department.

“Community programs and school policies and interventions that encourage tobacco-free environments and lifestyles have been shown to reduce and prevent youth tobacco use.

— Weld County Department of Public HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT

RMC Health will run the training and focus on five areas: describing essential parts of effective tobacco prevention in schools, explaining Tobacco Free School Law and the Teen Tobacco Use Prevention Act, looking at the process for policy review and adoption in school districts, talking about the potential issues that may arise from marijuana legalization and working on strategies to explain and enforce school policies.

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The first time the program was offered, turnout was fairly low, said Rachel Freeman, tobacco control program coordinator for the health department.

However, the three-year absence wasn't because of a lack of interest, but a cut in funding during the 2008 fiscal crisis. The program returned to Weld in 2012, she said.

Tobacco use among Weld teens continues to concern the health department, residents and teachers, despite the rate remaining relatively consistent over previous years.

Research shows 90 percent of adult tobacco users start smoking before the age of 18, according to the release.

Additionally, tobacco use often is seen in low socioeconomic and minority populations in part because the industry heavily targets advertising toward those demographics, Freeman said.

In Weld, 1 in 4 students have tried smoking cigarettes and 13 percent are regular smokers. Additionally, 1 in 10 students use smokeless and chewing tobacco in Weld schools.

The increasing popularity of e-cigarettes due to design and appealing flavors has caused the usage rate to increase dramatically since appearing. In 2013, 14 percent of students had tried e-cigarettes or vaporizers and that number likely has spiked in the past two years, Freeman said.

"Our true motivation behind offering the training is really to denormalize tobacco use," she said.

While the department staff teams with school district officials throughout Weld, the program is open to the general public in addition to educators.

"It does sort of take a village on this particular issue, so it would be great to get participation from community members as well as school officials and school staff," Freeman said.

To reserve your spot for the Free Constructing Effective Tobacco-Free Schools Policy Training workshop from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, 1555 N. 17th Ave. in Greeley visit http://www.tinyurl.com/TFS-Greeley.

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