The Crook County School District, like other school districts in the state of Oregon, has a tobacco use policy for the staff, visitors, and students at the schools.
>The Crook County Community Coalition and the CCSD are working together to change the current policy based on new best practices by the Center for Disease Control
A recent discussion that arose between the school district and the Crook County Community Coalition resulted in some changes to the district policy. It had not been updated since 2005, and according to Health Educator for the Crook County Health Department Kris Williams, there have been some changes to what is considered best practices since that time.
“At that time (2005), best practice suggested putting in steps for discipline for the students,” explained Williams. “It was based mostly on punishment kinds of things, as opposed to supportive and educational emphasis. Now, best practice from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that if we can incorporate less punishment and emphasize more tobacco education, it is more effective to prevent youth recidivism.”
Crook County School Board Superintendent Duane Yecha emphasized that the policy is still in revision, and the school board should take action at the December board meeting to adopt the changes.
“We have been meeting on that, and we had our first reading and the board had some input, and we have been trying to come up together with a new revision of the policy,” commented Crook County School District Superintendent Duane Yecha.
He said there is less emphasis in the policy on suspension and more emphasis on cessation education.
“We feel like cessation education is the most important piece here rather than the punitive side of it,” said Yecha.
Williams added that some new developments in the nicotine/tobacco world, including e-cigarettes and new nicotine delivery systems such as lozenges and disks, have been accounted for in the updated policy as well.
“We wanted to make sure those were included as well, so it was easier for staff to prevent tobacco use.”
Williams pointed out that Crook County has a very high tobacco use average among youth, compared to the rest of the state. In an Oregon Health Teens survey from 2009, 17 percent of eighth graders in Crook County used tobacco. This is in comparison to nine percent state-wide. Twenty-five percent of 11th graders in Crook County used tobacco in 2009, and in the state of Oregon, the average was 16 percent.
Williams said they recommended deleting the verbage in the policy that read, “The district will not contract with other public or private alternative schools that allow student tobacco use on campus,” because not all community colleges or universities have adopted tobacco-free campus policies.
Williams said that the district discussed the promoting of the tobacco-free campus policy at sporting events and other appropriate events.
“That is really positive,” she added.
Another addition to the policy included the fact that any person who distributes, sells, or causes to be sold, tobacco in any form to a person under 18 years of age commits a Class A Violation and is subject to a fine of not less than $220 and not exceeding $2,000.
Williams said that the policy includes an emphasis for in-school suspension versus out-of-school suspension or expulsion for early offenses. A part of this in-school suspension would include a tobacco-education program class.
“That is a real positive, because that hasn’t happened in the past,” exclaimed Williams.
She added that the class would be facilitated by the supervisor for the in-school suspension, and the education would be provided by the Crook County Health Department.
Yecha said they have worked through three-to-four drafts, and the policy revisions have been an ongoing process.
“We are still working on it,” he added.
The board should make a decision on the final policy on Dec. 17.