Kenna Williams, a senior at Tabb High School, influenced the Williamsburg James City County School Board to strengthen its anti-tobacco policy.
Williams is a student leader for the organization Y Street, a teen volunteer program sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. She was working on the 24/7 campaign, that seeks to help Virginia school districts adopt, implement and enforce 100 percent comprehensive tobacco and e-cigarette free policies.
Approached by Williams in October, the School Board unanimously voted to adopt a new tobacco and e-cigarette policy on Feb. 20.
“I am so thrilled that Williamsburg has chosen to pass the policy to make their school division comprehensive, especially so fast,” said Williams in a prepared statement. “The faster we make change in our communities and make each and every division 100 percent comprehensive, the safer they will be.”
While the previous tobacco policy only covered smokeable tobacco products the new one prohibits the possession of all tobacco products by minors. It also bans visitors from using tobacco on school grounds and at all school-sponsored events, including those that are off-campus, and removes designated smoking areas from all school properties. The last time the tobacco policy had been revised was in 2014.
“WJCC Schools has a strong history of supporting initiatives that encourage health and wellness among our students, staff, and families,” said Olwen Herron, WJCC Superintendent in a prepared statement. “We are proud to add the distinction of 100 percent tobacco-free schools to our commitment to ensuring healthy environments for teaching and learning.
WJCC is now the 35th school division in Virginia recognized by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth as having a 100 percent comprehensive tobacco and e-cigarette free policy, by the 24/7 campaign’s guidelines. The 24/7 campaign will provide free signs for all public schools in WJCC.
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Amelia Heymann can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on twitter @HeymannAmelia.