Some Iowa schools say they’re tobacco-free but still have outdoor smoking zones or faculty lounges where smoking is allowed. In the Mason City area, community leaders say tobacco is banned in all parts of all school property. Tammy Bryant, coordinator of Partnership for a Tobacco-Free Cerro Gordo County, says it’s important for schools to send the right message.

Bryant says “Cerro Gordo County has taken the lead in the state and said ‘Hey, we really feel it’s important that the schools are tobacco-free.’ I think that it’s a great catalyst as we head into this smoke-free and tobacco-free era.” She says the students play a key role in getting schools tobacco-free.

Bryant says “I didn’t go to the school board and say we want the grounds tobacco-free, these kids really did the work and were instrumental. They did the research. They did the math. They did the homework. They created the presentations and took it to their school board. It’s all about getting the students involved.” She says cooperation from area schools also helped bring the effort its success.

Bryant says there were no tobacco-free school grounds five years ago, so it’s been a phenomenal feat to reach the level where they are now. Cerro Gordo County recently became one of the first counties in the state to go completely tobacco-free on school grounds when the Ventura school district approved the idea.