Every 10 minutes in Canada, two teens start smoking cigarettes. One of them will eventually lose their life because of it. Making sure students understand the dangers of tobacco use and positive role modeling at home helps them choose to be tobacco free. Schools also have a role to play to support tobacco-free living and a safe learning and working environment for students and staff.
Two Ontario laws, the Smoke-Free Act (SFOA) and the new Electronic Cigarettes Act (ECA) support tobacco-free schools. The SFOA bans smoking or holding lit tobacco anywhere on school property, at any time, by anyone. (The traditional use of tobacco at ceremonies that are part of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture and spirituality is allowed.) The ECA bans the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping materials to anyone under 19 years of age. Additional regulations, expected later this year, will also ban the use of e-cigarettes in all places where smoking is banned.
In addition, the Simcoe County District School Board also bans the use of chew, dip, snus and other smokeless tobacco products, as well as new and emerging tobacco industry products, supplies and equipment. Like the provincial laws, the policy applies to everyone coming on to school property including board employees, students, family members, volunteers and visitors. It also applies when off property for school events such as field trips.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is an active partner supporting tobacco-free schools. We offer teacher and school resources to help youth stay or become tobacco free and to encourage parent and community support for tobacco-free living. These include:
• School newsletter, website and PA announcements
• Help for parent education nights that teach strategies to support youth with healthy decision-making
• Scripts for parent nights and community events that highlight the tobacco-free school policy
• Resources for students, staff and family members wanting to quit or cut down tobacco use
The health unit website – www.simcoemuskokahealth.org – is a good place to find information on tobacco use prevention, protection and help to quit. We also offer telephone support through Health Connection by calling 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520. Together we can help youth choose to be tobacco free.
~ Stephanie Jones RN & Leslie Gordon (SMDHU Tobacco-Free Living Program Coordinator)
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