Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
Woodward Schools are doing it. Ellis County Schools decided to do it. So it just makes sense that Mooreland School District would give in and try it too.
Mooreland Superintendent Terry Kellner recently announced his district's decision to officially make Mooreland School campuses totally tobacco free.
That means no tobacco use on any school property 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, said Woodward County Health Department Health Educator Jolena Graves.
Woodward School District has been totally tobacco free since early this fall, according to Graves.
"It's really not much of a change from the policy we already have," Kellner said. "But now we have the signs and we will work to make sure everyone is informed about it."
The decision to make the campus totally tobacco free might seem like an easy one. But there can be some complicated logistics regarding how to inform parents who come to the school for sports events and other after school programs. Also, enforcing the mandate also requires long-term commitment, Kellner said.
"It is something we will just be working at the next few weeks making sure we get the word out and that everyone is informed about it," Kellner said.
He said most teachers and parents already voluntarily abstain from tobacco use on the campuses because the culture has changed regarding tobacco in the last decade.
"We have really not had any problems to speak of," Kellner said. "I would say in the last five years, we might have had two incidents where someone was using tobacco on campus."
But for her part, Graves is excited about the seemingly slight change to the policy.
Graves cited statistics to get her point across.
"Tobacco use related health issues are so preventable," she said.
Indeed, according to Graves, tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the nation.
She said every day 40 Oklahoma children become regular smokers and roughly one out of every three of those will die prematurely because of that.
"I think the most important thing about this tobacco free campus is that it will not be so visible and so the adults in their lives will not be modeling this because what they see adults do does matter," Graves said.
Graves emphasized how important the total absence of tobacco from the daily lives of children is because of something called "normative education."
"When young people think that their friends and society at large act a certain way, they are inclined to act similarly," she said. "This is about changing what is normal."