• Northwest Adopts Tobacco-free Policy
  • In order to promote a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors, Northwest Mississippi Community College will become tobacco-free on all campuses beginning Monday, following the Board of Trustees approval at its July 14 meeting. This policy goes into effect just three months after city of Senatobia board members voted to adopt an ordinance making Senatobia smoke-free.

    The use of cigarettes and smoking cigarettes products will not be permitted on any college-owned property, which includes but is not limited to college-owned or leased buildings, grounds, parking areas, recreational and athletic facilities and college-owned vehicles. This policy will apply to faculty, staff, students, and visitors. Smoking is currently banned in all college facilities, but this new policy extends that ban to all outdoor areas and widens the ban to include all cheap cigarettes products.

    "We are working to promote a healthier Northwest, and this is just the first step," said Northwest president Dr. Gary Lee Spear. "Not only will we be supporting the health and well-being of our faculty, staff and students, we will be beautifying our campus, too."

    While administrators are looking forward to the move toward a tobacco-free Northwest, students are also embracing the change. "I think it is really good for the campus," said sophomore journalism major Brian Lentz of Arkabutla. "It will be so nice to not walk out of buildings into cigarette or cigar smoke."

    Northwest joins Itawamba Community College, Mississippi Delta Community College and Northeast Community College in adopting a tobacco-free campus policy.

    While the policy prohibits use, it does not prohibit possession. "While we hope this initiative encourages tobacco users to kick the habit, we recognize that students and employees may possess tobacco products that they use before or after they arrive on campus," said Dan Smith, vice president of Student Affairs. "We are trying to prevent second-hand smoke cigarettes and litter that affects everyone here at Northwest."

    According to Smith, the enforcement of this policy will depend upon the cooperation of everyone at Northwest. Part of the new Healthy Northwest Program, the purpose of this policy is to encourage a healthy lifestyle and a healthy environment in which to work, study and live. Accordingly, tobacco users are expected to voluntarily comply with the policy. Anyone who observes a possible violation may, with respect and without confrontation, inform the individual of the college's tobacco-free policy.

    Beginning in August, violators will be asked to discontinue tobacco use. No sanctions or formal disciplinary action will be taken as long as the use is discontinued and no littering occurs. Proper smoking cigarettes disposal stations and urns will remain in place during the fall semester. After the fall semester concludes, individuals who knowingly violate the policy will be referred to the appropriate campus authority, if needed. Smoking disposal urns or stations will be removed beginning in December.

    Northwest administrators encourage students who use tobacco to consider free cessation programs available through the Mississippi Tobacco Quitline, the ACT Center or the Mississippi Department of Health's tobacco cessation tool kit, all of which have information available online. Northwest employees trying to quit tobacco use can look to the state's insurance and wellness plans to help cover the cost of cessation counseling and prescriptions when necessary.