All NEMCC sites to go tobacco-free

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – Northeast Mississippi Community College will make all of its campuses tobacco free as of Jan. 1.
A group of staff at the college, led by Dean of Student Services and Athletic Director Ricky Ford, is preparing for the transition.
Ford said the first semester of the 2011-2012 academic year will be used to “make sure everybody knows what to expect.”
The policy was discussed for several months, and President Johnny Allen appointed a panel to work out the details. He will send a letter to campus groups to announce the transition.
“We will use the July-December time period to inform all of our public that we have made that firm decision and are going forward,” Allen said in an earlier interview.
The Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition will help educate students, faculty and staff about smoking-cessation classes and options, Ford said.
“Our Coalition is so excited to hear that NEMCC will be tobacco free as of January 2012,” said Melissa Nash, project director for the Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Prentiss/Tishomingo counties. “We applaud the Northeast administration for taking the initiative to include smokeless tobacco as well as cigarettes in their policy.”
Northeast joins Magnolia Regional Health Center, the largest employer in Alcorn County, in becoming tobacco free. The hospital in Corinth is preparing for its new status on June 1.
Earlier this year, Itawamba Community College became a smoke-free campus.
More than 4,700 Mississippians of 440,000 people nationwide die from tobacco-related illnesses each year.
“Since Northeast is a respected learning institution in not only Prentiss County, but also the surrounding counties in the north half of the state, we hope their stance on tobacco will inspire other businesses and communities to follow their lead,” Nash said.

Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@journalinc.com.