Tue09022014

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Foothill and De Anza colleges praised for smoke-free policy

Breathe California, an organization dedicated to fighting lung disease, awarded the Foothill-De Anza Community College District an official commendation for its leadership in promoting smoke-free campuses. Representatives of the agency presented the award to the board of trustees Nov. 5, commending them for the district's commitment to protecting student health.

In 2002, the Foothill-De Anza Community College District was one of the first community college districts to institute an outdoor smoking policy for its campuses. Seeking to institute a healthier learning atmosphere, the two colleges banned smoking within 25 feet of doorways, windows and ventilation systems on campus. The state of California has since adopted a similar law for all government buildings.

But Foothill-De Anza district's leadership did not end there. In an effort to discourage smoking and protect nonsmokers from the effects of secondhand smoke, on June 30, 2005, the board voted to implement a stronger smoke-free policy, which banned smoking everywhere on campus except for parking lots.

"We would like to commend Foothill and De Anza colleges (for) being among the first to take such a proactive role in protecting the health of their students, faculty and employees," said Margo Sidener, president and CEO of Breathe California. "We are proud to have worked with these schools over the years to build safe and healthy campuses."

Collaborating with the Foothill-De Anza Community College District since 2002, Breathe California has worked with student leaders to address smoking issues on campuses. As part of its Mind the Gap project, the agency helped mentor students on smoking issues and how to bring about change on their campuses. This included efforts to survey campus attitudes about smoking and develop new smoke-free policies for the board to consider.

"The implementation of a successful smoke-free policy has only been possible because of the collective commitment of the students, administration and the board," Sidener said. "They all deserve praise for working together and showing that smoke-free policies can work."

Although smoking rates continue to decline, tobacco use remains the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the county. Smoking among young adults is a particular concern, as 18-24-year-olds have the highest smoking rates of any age demographic. In addition, a growing body of scientific evidence indicates the dangers of secondhand smoke. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which can increase the risk of heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmokers by 25 percent to 30 percent.

Breathe California of the Bay Area is dedicated to fighting lung disease in all its forms and working with communities to promote lung health. For 96 years, the local agency has fought health issues, including tobacco use, asthma, lung cancer, tuberculosis and air pollution, through a variety of programs and services.

For more information, call (408) 998-5865 or visit www.lungsrus.org.

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