September 12, 2019

Coalitions in Action — Community Awareness and Prevention Association Implements Tobacco-Free School Policy

“The cities of Brecksville and Broadview Heights encompass just under 35 square miles of land,” said CAPA’s Director Kelly Lazar. “Together these beautiful Northeast Ohio suburbs are located halfway between Cleveland and Akron in Cuyahoga County. They are nestled in the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and are also home to a large portion of the Cleveland Metroparks. The Brecksville Reservation has an extensive system of trails and is a source of outdoor recreation. It is also an area that is highly attractive to local youth because of its seclusion. Of the roughly 33,000 people residing in the cities of Brecksville and Broadview Heights, slightly under 28% are 18 years of age or younger; and 19% are 62 years of age or older. The cities of Brecksville and Broadview Heights share a school district in which two schools have been nationally recognized as Blue Ribbon Schools. Additionally, the high school has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report magazine as being in the top 5 percent of all high schools in the United States in 2019.”

“The Community Awareness and Prevention Association (CAPA) is a non-profit 501c3 organization that was founded in 1989. It is a unique collaboration between the cities of Brecksville and Broadview Heights and the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District,” said Lazar.

“The coalition is comprised of parents, school and law enforcement personnel, business professionals, religious leaders, health providers and other community activists,” said Lazar. “Together, CAPA coalition members are dedicated to mobilizing at the local level to make the communities of Brecksville and Broadview Heights safer, healthier, and drug-free for all residents.”

“Not unlike most communities throughout the nation, we have seen an alarming increase in the amount of our youth that are using e-cigarettes and becoming addicted to nicotine,” said Lazar. “Over the past year, we worked with the local school district to assist them with revising their tobacco policy to meet the state guidelines for a 100% tobacco-free campus.”  

“We knew that the use of tobacco products, particularly e-cigarettes, was impacting our children, youth and families, but before meeting with a representative from the school board administration we spent months compiling local information,” said Lazar. “Within this information, we included tobacco compliance check data, point of sale tobacco scans to assess tobacco marketing, police diversion incidents involving youth and tobacco, school disciplinary infractions, and youth survey data that we administer annually to students in 7th – 12th grade. We reached out to the Ohio Department of Health who graded the current tobacco policy, detailing areas that needed to be changed. The department also provided examples of 100% tobacco free school policies. Finally, we gathered data regarding the impact of tobacco on productivity, employee health and insurance premiums.”  

“We discussed our concerns with a school board member who serves on our coalition and shared the information that we compiled,” said Lazar. “He presented it to the school board on behalf of the coalition and, after several more meetings and emails, the district passed the policy. Our school district is now one of 89 public school districts of the roughly 600 in the state of Ohio to pass such a policy.”   

“It is imperative that you have the involvement of key community members as champions of your coalition,” said Lazar. “Our efforts would be significantly hampered were it not for the sector representation and membership capacity that we have.”

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