NORTON, VA - Two Southwest Virginia school systems are now one hundred percent tobacco free.
The Dickenson County School System and the Norton City School System's school boards both recently changed the school policy to prohibit tobacco products on campus.
Caroll Addington, the school nurse coordinator for Norton City Schools, says that before the new policy, tobacco was allowed at outdoor events, such as football games. But now, thanks to her and a team, the two school systems are now tobacco free.
"We wanted to be the first in the area to do it, and we are really proud of that," said Addington.
Recently the schools received an $80,000 dollar from from the Centers for Disease Control which will help buy signs and other promotional materials for schools that participate.
"The grant funded the signage that we will use on our grounds," said Addington. "This will help educate our public of the policy change."
The new rule is also a culture shift for the school and the community.
Billie Murray is project manager for the American Lung Association in Southwest Virginia. She says that the Southwest Virginia region has more tobacco use then any other in the state--about 32 percent of people in Dickenson County alone.
She hopes that with the change, children in the area will be in a healthier environment.
"If they can go to school, they can have at least 8 hours a day that they are not breathing in smoke, said Murray. .that is going to be so helpful for their health"
Murray said that three other school systems – Wise, Russell and Scott counties -- are also covered by this year's grant. Those boards have not voted on a policy change.
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