Taking your business smoke-free can be a win for employees and customers.
By Kirk Walton
Photography Courtesy of Carrington College
What’s your New Year’s resolution? Go to the gym more? Carpool? Use cloth bags at the grocery store? While skipping the gym or forgetting your cloth bags won’t kill you, smoking will, and it can harm people around you as well. That’s what prompted Carrington College-Boise to make a resolution to go smoke-free in 2013.
“Carrington College is committed to helping students achieve their goals of entry-level employment in the healthcare field,” said Danielle Horras, the college’s Executive Director. “Our decision to go smoke-free shows our commitment to the standards that healthcare employers set here in the Valley.”
It’s estimated that around one-sixth of Idahoans are currently smokers. In fact, smoking is a leading cause of death in Idaho, killing more people than overdose, homicide, suicide, and car crashes combined. Currently, 14 percent of all high school aged youth in Idaho smoke, and more than 60,000 Idaho youth are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes. The economic ramifications are staggering: smoking costs Idaho taxpayers almost $300,000,000 per year.
Leading the charge against smoking and tobacco use in Idaho is Project Filter, a tobacco cessation program for smokers and their families. The project is sponsored by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in partnership with the Tobacco Free Idaho Alliance (TFIA). They work with individuals, but now whole companies are beginning to sign on. In December 2013, the Tobacco Free Idaho Alliance presented Carrington College-Boise with its Business Hero award for successfully taking the college smoke-free.
“Adopting smoke- or tobacco-free campus policies can make an enormous impact on the life-long health of the students, staff, and faculty,” said Molly Reece, a coordinator for the Fresh Air Campus Challenge, a Pacific Northwest initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote smoke-free college campuses. Reece and Joanne Graff from Central District Health worked with Carrington to help the college meet its goal.
How did Carrington College do it? Physical Therapist Assistant Program Director Jonathan Bird, who also chairs Carrington’s Healthy Campus task force, said, “We just decided to make this a priority for our campus.”
Bird noted that many healthcare providers and other college campuses have already established tobacco-free workplaces. Carrington drafted a new smoke-free policy, then rolled it out over the course of three months, educating the staff, faculty, and roughly 400 students and providing smoking cessation resources. Today, campus-wide, use of all tobacco products is banned entirely. E-cigarettes are allowed, but even these can only be used 25 feet away from the buildings.
Not only is Carrington College better preparing their students for jobs in healthcare, they are also increasing the health of their student population. “I’m a smoker, and I know I need to quit,” said Medical Assisting student Katherine Miller. “Carrington’s decision has encouraged me to stop smoking.”
Miller said she had been planning on quitting for a while, but this nudge from her school made it happen. Combined with the free assistance from Project Filter, she is optimistic about the future.
Many local businesses have begun to consider tobacco-free initiatives. “There are great resources for business that want to do this,” said Bird. He encourages other businesses to reach out to Project Filter and Tobacco Free Alliance Idaho for support in creating healthier workplaces for Boise.
For more information about how to quit smoking, or to take your workplace smoke-free, visit www.projectfilter.org.
Come see what a smoke-free campus looks like!
On Tuesday, January 7, 2014, Carrington College-Boise is hosting an Open House from 11-7 p.m. and a Healthcare Career Fair from 1-6 p.m. with over 14 local healthcare employers. The Idaho Department of Labor will also offer a Veterans Resource Fair from 2-4 p.m.; a Professional Dress Workshop Roundtable will take place at 2 p.m.
To RSVP, call (855) 774-7627 or visit www.carrington.edu. The college is located at 1122 N. Liberty Street in Boise.