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Archived Information

Student Support

Tobacco Control Programs
1997 Status Report

May 15, 1997

Dear Interested Parties:

Please find enclosed the Comprehensive School Health Education Tobacco Control Programs Status Report. The purpose of this report is to describe the current status of CSHE Tobacco Prevention Education Programs in Massachusetts school districts. The findings highlight the progress made in implementing the Tobacco-Free School Policy and the development of school-based tobacco prevention education and cessation programs. Also seen are those areas of the school-based tobacco control programs in need of attention.

In order to measure the development and implementation of the Tobacco-Free School Policy, a self-evaluation protocol created by the Department of Public Health was distributed to school districts in the fall of 1996. Districts were encouraged to use the protocol in their own local assessment of the progress of their tobacco control efforts and were asked to provide a copy to Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Health, Safety and Student Support Services in the winter of 1997. A total of 216 districts (62%) returned a copy of the Self-Evaluation Tool for School-Based Tobacco Control Programs.

Comprehensive School Health Education (CSHE) programs are supported through the Health Protection Fund (HPF). HPF is funded by a 1992 state referendum authorizing a portion of tax revenues on cigarettes and other tobacco products to be appropriated for smoking education and cessation programs. While tobacco education and cessation are top priorities, CSHE covers many facets of health.

Massachusetts' anti-tobacco initiatives serve as national models. Examples of these initiatives are the second highest state tax on cigarettes in the nation, a first-in-the-nation measure requiring disclosure of ingredients and chemicals in tobacco products, and massive public education.

This status report gives a sense of where Massachusetts school districts are overall with respect to school-based tobacco control programs. In addition, it can serve as a benchmark for individual districts to gauge where they are in relation to school districts overall. As this report is specifically about tobacco, it will be helpful to districts in directing their tobacco-control programs in a concrete and practical manner. If you are interested in accessing the entire report, it can be found on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education web site (http://www.doe.mass.edu/).

Sincerely,

Robert V. Antonucci
Commissioner of Education

Status Report Executive Summary
Status Report Findings
Appendix

Status Report Executive Summary

The purpose of this Tobacco Control Programs Status Report is to describe the current status of Comprehensive School Health Education Tobacco Prevention Education Programs in Massachusetts school districts. This status report uses "Guidelines for School Health Programs to Prevent Tobacco Use and Addiction"* as an organizational structure. The guidelines use the seven elements below to consolidate the most effective strategies for school-based programs found to prevent tobacco use among young people. The data sources for this report are the 1997 Self-Evaluation Tool for School-Based Tobacco Control Programs

(SETT) and the 1996 Massachusetts School Health Education Profile (MSHEP).

1. Policy Implementation

  • 100% of districts have a Tobacco-Free School Policy for students and staff as mandated by the Education Reform Act of 1993. (SETT)
  • 93% of districts list consequences for student violation of the Tobacco-Free School Policy, and
  • 58% of districts include an option for tobacco education (e.g., Tobacco Education Group) in lieu of suspension or other punishment for students who violate the Tobacco-Free School Policy. (SETT)

2. Instructional Elements

  • 100% of districts have a tobacco education curriculum that includes refusal skills. (SETT)
  • There has been a significant increase from 1994 to 1996 in the percentage of health educators teaching tobacco use prevention, from 73% to 95%. (MSHEP)

3. Education Provided

  • The percentage of schools requiring a health education course for graduation or promotion from 1994 to 1996 went from 69% to 82% for high schools, a significant increase. (MSHEP)
  • Students in grades 5 through 9 receive the most tobacco prevention education. Tobacco prevention education decreases during the high school years. (SETT)

4. Teacher Training

  • 82% of K-12 faculty received training on tobacco prevention education. (SETT)
  • 57% of middle school and 60% of high school health teachers received four or more hours (at least day) of inservice training on tobacco use prevention in the last two years. (MSHEP)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1994. Guidelines for school health programs to prevent tobacco use and addiction. MMWR;43:1-18.

5. Community And Parental Involvement

  • 81% of districts are part of a tobacco coalition aimed at reducing the use of tobacco in the entire community. (SETT)
  • 96% of districts have involved students, staff, and parents in tobacco related policy/program development and implementation. (SETT)

6. Cessation Program Availability

  • 67% of districts with high schools have cessation groups for high school students and 32% of districts with middle schools have cessation groups for middle school students. (SETT)
  • 50% of districts have tobacco cessation groups for teachers, 37% of districts have tobacco cessation groups for the community, and 28% of districts have tobacco cessation groups specifically for parents. (SETT)

7. Program Assessment And Evaluation

  • The Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (MYRBS) is administered every two years to assess health related attitudes and behaviors of students. In addition, many districts administer a local YRBS to assess their student population. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires evidence of a Comprehensive K-12 Needs Assessment for the Health Protection Fund Grant Application.
  • Districts track the success of the cessation programs by the number of participants enrolled, the number of people who have cut down on smoking and by how much, the short- and long-term quit rate, and incidences of tobacco use on campus.

Summary

Major Successes:

The Health Protection Fund for comprehensive school health education has been in place for three and a half years. Tobacco-free school policy implementation in 100% of districts, tobacco prevention education for all students and particularly in grades 5-9 when the start of tobacco use is highest, and the development of cessation programs for students, beginning in middle school, continuing in high school, and extending to staff, parents, and community members are gains in tobacco prevention and cessation that have been made on the campuses of Massachusetts K-12 schools.

Challenges for the Future:

In an ongoing process of improvement, tobacco prevention education and cessation need to be strengthened. Districts are challenged to increase the prevention education effort in the upper grades. Many districts run cessation programs, but the necessity for more cessation programs is recurrent. A commitment to a cessation program is critical for the success of the participants. For commitment to occur, the cessation program should be dynamic, exciting, and include peer and community leaders where possible. Communities need to mirror the tobacco-free atmosphere created by Massachusetts schools to reinforce the message to young people of a tobacco-free life.

Commissioner's Letter || Executive Summary || Findings || Appendix



Last Updated: April 15, 1997
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