Northeast preps for tobacco-free transition

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – Northeast Mississippi Community College has begun six months of preparation to remove tobacco use from its campuses in Booneville, Corinth and New Albany.
The educational campaign is intended to prepare staff, faculty, students and visitors for the change on Jan. 1.
“Becoming tobacco-free is the right direction for Northeast to be going,” said Dean of Students Ricky Ford. “We must take the lead in educating the public primarily about the dangers associated with the use of tobacco.”
The new policy prohibits tobacco and smoking products on any NEMCC-owned property, including buildings and grounds, parking areas, walkways, recreational and sporting facilities and college-owned vehicles.
“We recognize our responsibility as a college to not only educate our students in the classroom, but also to educate and inform our community in ways to live a most productive and healthy life,” said college President Johnny Allen.
The college becomes the third public college or university in Mississippi – after Itawamba Community College and Delta State University – to have active tobacco-free programs, according to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.
The entire campus community will participate in educational sessions on the tobacco-free policy during orientations in June and July, and in-service sessions in August.
Incoming students will learn more about ways to quit using tobacco products from Melissa Nash of the Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Prentiss and Tishomingo counties.
“I’ll be speaking at the June 21 and June 23 orientations to provide information to students and staff about how to access the Mississippi Tobacco Quitline, a free service,” Nash said.
The Quitline is a telephone and online counseling service, a project of the Mississippi Department of Health as the Tobacco Free Coalition is. People can use the service through a toll-free telephone number, (800) QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669), or online at www.quitlinems.com.
“It is not just smoking that we must educate all citizens of Northeast Mississippi about,” Ford said. “There are very serious health consequences associated with the use of any form of tobacco.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@journalinc.com.