By Erika Webb
No butts about it, Daytona State College will be tobacco free this fall.
Starting Aug. 1, the use of any lighted or smokeless tobacco products on any campus or property owned or operated by the college will be prohibited. The prohibition extends to all DSC employees, students, and persons on college property, according to the DSC policy manual. Use of tobacco products is not prohibited in an individual's auto on the property.
Multiple surveys revealed a majority of Daytona State students, faculty and staff supported a tobacco-free campus policy, according to the college's website.
"A majority of those surveyed who said they do smoke indicated that they would like to quit, mirroring numerous state and national surveys of tobacco users," DSC reported.
Nancy Homan is the fitness and aquatic center coordinator in the health and wellness department at DSC. She is the principal investigator for the grant funded through the Area Health & Education Center of Northeast Florida, AHEC, which provides educational materials, health screening tools, and visual aids on the hazards of smoking and dangers of second hand smoke, in addition to free smoking cessation classes.
The grant proposal was a collaborative effort involving several departments and clubs including School of Health, Human and Public Services, School of Health & Wellness, Student Government Association, Environmental, Dental and Respiratory clubs and Counseling Services.
Students from those organizations and departments have participated in activities associated with the grant and the policy's institution, Ms. Homan said.
"Most are seeking professions whereby they are not permitted to smoke at work," Ms. Homan wrote in a letter to the college's board of directors regarding implementation of the tobacco free policy.
She asked the board to support the policy and in so doing, "join the growing social norm supporting a smoke free environment and support from within academic communities for such policies for campus health and well-being."
Ms. Homan has been with DSC for nearly 16 years. When she applied for the grant in 2010, she said, she had a five-year plan, which included getting the information out, conducting surveys, educating students and faculty, and garnering support and backup.
She worked fast.
And, she said, she had a lot of help.
"This has been really supported by student groups," Ms. Homan said. "Without them, we wouldn't have been successful with all of the surveys."
It stands to reason a fitness advocate would be opposed to the use of tobacco products, but Ms. Homan's motivator was closer than her vocation to her heart.
"My father was 53 when he died of a massive stroke," she said. "He was a heavy smoker. That's the reason I feel so passionate. I don't want this to happen to other families. I had to learn the hard way."
Cigarette smoking approximately doubles a person's risk for stroke, and cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2010 when the grant was awarded, 430 colleges in the United States were tobacco free, Ms. Homan said.
As of July 8, there are at least 1,182 college campuses nationwide that have gone 100 percent smoke-free, according to the American Non-Smokers' Rights Foundation. Of those, 798 have gone entirely tobacco-free, with still more considering their own policies, the ANRF reported.
Nearly all institutions in the Central Florida region have already adopted tobacco-free campus policies or are considering them, according to DSC's website.
Ms. Homan said during the 2012 Cigarette Butt Pick-Up and Earth Day event, students, student-athletes, staff and members of the Volusia County Health Department removed 15,000 butts from the Daytona Beach Campus in just one hour.
This year around 9,000 butts were removed from the grounds of the Daytona Beach Campus; lesser amounts were picked up at other branch campuses, DSC's website reported.
The tobacco-free policy should eliminate the need for counting next year.
Ms. Homan said the AHEC has been invaluable to the effort. The grant is helping to offset the cost of the policy, including the purchase of campus signs, and the organization facilitates the smoking cessation classes, which are open to the public, in addition to providing four weeks of nicotine replacement therapy to participants.
Last fall Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announced it will implement a tobacco-free policy, also effective Aug. 1. Bethune-Cookman University also prohibits use of tobacco products on campus.
"We are trying to coordinate classes with Embry-Riddle and Bethune-Cookman on our campuses monthly so opportunities exist to all students, staff and general public," Ms. Homan said.
Other Florida colleges and universities with 100 percent tobacco-free campuses, according to the ANRF, are Edison State College, Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences, Florida International University, Florida State College of Jacksonville, Florida State University, Gulf Coast State College, Hillsborough Comm- unity College, Miami-Dade College, Nova Southeastern University, South Florida Community College, University of Florida, University of Florida Health Services/ Shands, Seminole State College, University of South Florida Health and Warner University.
"The state of Florida has quite a few (tobacco free campuses) compared to other states," Ms. Homan said, "and we should be proud ... Florida is proud."
Tobacco-free Florida has compiled a list of organizations that offer free or low-cost smoking cessation programs for those seeking help to quit.
For information on smoking-cessation classes in the area visit daytona-state.edu/nobutts.