INA, Ill. (April 27, 2015) – Rend Lake College will be a smoke-free campus starting July 1, thanks to a nationwide initiative aimed at addressing smoking and tobacco use on community college campuses.

The Smoke-Free Campus Act, signed last year by former Gov. Pat Quinn, will not allow smoking on any public college or university campus, whether that is indoors, outdoors, or in parking lots. Staff, students, and visitors will no longer be able to carry, smoke, burn, inhale, or exhale any kind of cigarette, cigar, e-cigarette, or other smoking equipment. The one exception is for those who wish to smoke inside their vehicles.

“We are excited to make Rend Lake College a safe, healthy, and productive environment for everyone who visits campus, whether that’s students, staff, or community members,” said RLC President Terry Wilkerson. “We plan to follow and enforce the act by first raising awareness and reminding everyone of the rules. It’s going to be a team effort for everyone on campus.”

RLC is one of 38 community colleges around the country who are receiving funds, technical support, and training through a $5,000 grant from Legacy, a national public health organization. The grant will help provide signage and promotional items for the college to raise awareness, as well as fund monthly events aimed at helping students and staff quit smoking. The first event was a booth at the Health and Wellness Fair held on RLC’s campus Friday, April 17.

Over the next year, RLC will begin to address tobacco use by encouraging all students, faculty, and staff to adopt a 100 percent smoke-free policy in their personal lives. Currently, more than 1,500 higher education institutions have gone smoke-free or tobacco-free, including 330 community colleges.

The health benefits strike home for RLC’s Worksite Wellness Committee, who will be leading RLC in making the changes. A task force is already in the works on awareness initiatives to encourage others to quit smoking.

“The health benefits of going smoke-free are countless as more than 2 million – or 21 percent – of adults in Illinois alone are smokers. In fact, Illinois ranks 39th in the nation for prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults,” said Kim Wilkerson, Dean of Allied Health and member of the Worksite Wellness Committee. “We want our campus to be inviting, welcoming, and most of all safe, for everyone in the community.”

A 100 percent smoke-free policy is one that prohibits the use of smoke-producing tobacco, such as cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, small cigars, pipes, hookah as well as e-cigarettes. The policy applies to anyone on campus and on any campus property.

For more information about the smoke-free policy, contact ReAnne Palmer, Public Information Specialist, at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1223, or at [email protected].

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