Eliminating Tobacco in K-12 Schools

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Policies and procedures are adopted into school systems to govern students, faculty, staff, outside vendors and parents. These policies cover a wide range of issues to ensure adequate governance of the county’s school system. Every student’s education and safety is significantly affected by each policy put into place. The Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida has recommended that K-12 schools implement a comprehensive tobacco free school policy that consists of 12 different components (click here for a list of these components). A K-12 comprehensive tobacco free school policy would help eliminate tobacco use on school grounds, thus preventing youth, faculty, staff and visitors’ exposure to secondhand smoke.


Tobacco use is still the number one preventable cause of death in the United States; therefore, implementing a K-12 comprehensive tobacco free school policy will provide a safe environment for students to gain the knowledge necessary to become future leaders and decision makers of their community. A component of the K-12 policy states that all aspects of the tobacco-free environment are effective twenty-four (24) hours per day, 365 days per year. This includes all days when school is not in session and at any school sponsored event off campus. Another component of the policy states that all school buildings, grounds, campuses, housing, and property (including vehicles and buses) whether owned or leased are tobacco free at all times.


Like adults, many youth who use tobacco seek to quit but lack the knowledge on how to retrieve sources to accomplish this goal. An outline of an enforcement plan for students and staff that provide cessation resources would assist those youth looking to quit. Components of the policy not only effect students, but faculty, staff and visitors as well. Two components prohibit tobacco use on school grounds and school events, whether on or off district property by staff and visitors.

It is vitally important that all components of the K-12 Comprehensive Tobacco Free School Policy are adopted to help eliminate tobacco use on school grounds and especially amongst youth. Knowing the challenges of your schools will make the implementation of these components different from other schools, but it’s best to do what’s most effective for the culture of your school.

Author: Dekywan Debose

Dekywan currently serves as the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Coordinator in Leon County. Although new to the position, he is not a stranger to working with children in the fight against tobacco. He is excited for the future of the movement as it marches towards a Tobacco Free Leon.

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