Sarasota County Schools News

School Board thanked for smoke-free policy

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SWAT photo

Sarasota County Schools Wellness Coordinator Erin Singerman, left, joins students Nick Black and Eviana Gianopolis, and Sarasota County Health Department Tobacco Program Manager Hilary Sperry in displaying one of the 800 signs to be posted in the Sarasota County Schools declaring the district to be completely tobacco-free. Gianopolis and Black are members of the Pine View chapter of Students Working Against Tobacco.

SARASOTA COUNTY, June 6, 2017 -- Two representatives of the Sarasota County chapter of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), a national student organization devoted to eliminating tobacco use, joined representatives of the Sarasota County School District and the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County at the June 6 School Board meeting to publicly thank the School Board for making the Sarasota County School District completely tobacco-free.

At the meeting, the Board approved a policy that prohibits the use of tobacco products in any form on any school property, including buildings, grounds and vehicles. Previous Board policy prohibited tobacco use anywhere that students might be present, but permitted schools to have designated smoking areas for staff.

Sarasota County Schools Wellness Coordinator Erin Singerman thanked the Board and its many community partners for their support in the campaign to make the district tobacco free. She said the policy was the result of a concerted effort over several years by a number of groups and organizations, including the School Board, district employees, SWAT, Tobacco-Free Florida, the Sarasota Tobacco Free Partnership, the school district Tobacco Free Committee, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County and many other community partners.

Singerman recognized district employees for voting in January 2017 for all Sarasota School District property to be tobacco free. She also thanked Board member Shirley Brown for her years of work as a member of the Sarasota County Tobacco-Free Partnership and for championing the smoke-free policy with the Board.

The community partnership to end tobacco use among teens has proven very successful, Singerman said. The Florida Youth Tobacco Survey reported that tobacco use among Sarasota County youth from 11-17 years old was 14 percent in 2012 and dropped to 7 percent in 2016.

The district policy prohibits the use of all forms of tobacco, including smokeless and e-cigarettes on school property. The policy applies to staff, students, visitors and contractors. “This decision will not only protect the health and wellness of staff, students, and visitors today, but for many years to come,” Singerman said.

Singerman also thanked the County Health Department and Tobacco-Free Florida for their support of the local effort, including their involvement on committees a donation of 800 signs to be used across the district to remind everyone that campuses are tobacco free. “We are really excited about the signs because they convey a positive message and show that Sarasota Schools are ‘proud to be tobacco-free,’” she said.

The signs incorporate Sarasota School district orange and blue colors and declare that cigarettes, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco all are prohibited on school property. The district Facilities Department will install the signs at all schools and work sites across the district over the summer.

Tobacco Free Florida also provides a variety of tobacco cessation resources for anyone desiring to stop using tobacco, including telephone counseling, text to quit, and in-person group classes. They also provide participants with free nicotine replacement therapy products, including patches, gum or lozenges.

The Sarasota County Tobacco-Free Partnership welcomes new members and invites the public to attend its meetings. Anyone interested in more information can call Allyson Bennett at (941) 861-2779 or email her at


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