Date ArticleType
5/31/2018 Member News

No ifs, ands or butts: SPC’s smoke-free policy is making a difference

This is a press release from St. Petersburg College. For more information, contact Rita Farlow, Assistant Director, Marketing and Strategic Communications, 727-302-6526 or Marilyn Shaw, Public Relations Specialist, 727-341-4712.

No ifs, ands or butts: SPC’s smoke-free policy is making a difference

The dust has settled – and the smoke cleared – at St. Petersburg College (SPC) as the institution approaches its second anniversary of being tobacco free. The student-led initiative to ban all forms of tobacco, including smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes, on all SPC campuses and properties was formally adopted in June 2016.

“Secondhand smoke is a major hazard, and a lot of people do not want to be around it,” SPC St. Petersburg Gibbs Campus SGA President Fallia Zacharopoulou said. “I’m very proud to be at SPC where we look out for each other.”

The Truth Initiative, a national foundation dedicated to ending tobacco use, awarded SPC a $10,000 grant through its Smoke-Free and Tobacco-Free Community College grant program to assist with implementing and publicizing the new tobacco-free policy.

“Our students raised a concern, performed research and professionally presented their findings,” said Dr. Jamelle Conner, Provost of SPC’s St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. “Being awarded the Truth Initiative grant was further validation of their good work, and we greatly appreciate the support that the grant provided in making SPC smoke and tobacco free.”

The grant wrapped up earlier this spring. However, SPC will not cease efforts to promote its smoke-free policy.

Under the Truth Initiative grant, SPC held multiple Wellness and Awareness events on campus. Tobacco Free Forums were also held on multiple SPC campuses to encourage open dialogue between students, faculty and staff on the new policy and related concerns to smoking and tobacco use. Information on the tobacco-free policy was regularly disseminated to ensure new students were aware of the new rules at the start of each term.

Zacharopoulou has helped to inform and educate her peers on the benefits of the initiative.

“I believe the tobacco-free campus policy is a great addition to the College,” Zacharopoulou said. “I strongly believe in being environmentally friendly, especially on a college campus, where students are here to learn with limited distractions.”

In Florida, 18-to-24 year-olds have the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking, compared to all other age groups. Many college students believe their current tobacco use is harmless, that they are not addicted and that they will quit smoking when they graduate, but studies show otherwise. Research demonstrates that young adults who smoke find that it leads to a lifetime of addiction, resulting in tobacco-related disease and premature death.

More than 20 colleges and universities have enacted smoke-free campus policies in the Sunshine State.