Skip to content

Tobacco Free and Smoke Free Policies 

DHEC's Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control staff works to build statewide partnerships resulting in initiatives that reduce people's exposure to second hand smoke. Tobacco Free and Smoke Free settings in South Carolina currently include schools, hospitals, faith-based settings, work-sites, colleges/universities, and recreation facilities.

Smoke Free policies often apply to combustible tobacco products ONLY and may allow designated smoking areas, may allow alternative nicotine products such as e-cigarettes, or provide other exemptions.

Tobacco Free policies prohibit the use of all tobacco containing or tobacco derived products, smokeless tobacco (snuff, chewing tobacco, dip, snus), and alternative nicotine products such as e-cigarettes.  Tobacco Free policies apply to everyone, in all setting locations, at all times (with no exemptions).  It does not apply to Nicotine Replacement Therapy products (gum, patch, lozenge, inhaler), which help tobacco users with cessation efforts.

Colleges and Universities 

Prior to more comprehensive efforts, many colleges and universities in South Carolina adopted Smoke Free policies.  Smoke Free campuses may have designated smoking areas, may allow smoking at sports venues, or have other exemptions in their policy.  While the majority of educational institutions are implementing Tobacco Free policies, there are still a few implementing the less restrictive Smoke Free policy.

Promotion of Tobacco Free policies for colleges and universities is a programmatic effort of the SC Tobacco Free Collaborative, a DHEC community partner. Information regarding current Smoke Free and Tobacco Free colleges and universities is available on their website.  In addition, the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation posts an updated listing by state of colleges and universities that meet Tobacco Free criteria.  This listing has links to each policy and can be accessed here.

Schools 

62 of 81 public school districts in South Carolina have comprehensive 100% tobacco- free policies.  Working alongside the SC School Boards Association (SCSBA), DHEC actively promotes model policy and provides support and assistance to schools wishing to become 100% tobacco-free.

School District Mini-Grant Funding Opportunity

Since 2006, South Carolina school districts have been encouraged to adopt 100% comprehensive tobacco-free model policy through a joint initiative between DHEC and SCSBA.  Our shared vision is to have all South Carolina school districts operating under the 100% comprehensive tobacco-free model policy developed through this initiative. 

According to the American Cancer Society Communities of Excellence in Tobacco Control:  A Community Planning Guide, tobacco control takes a team effort. A wide variety of skills, ideas and resources is needed for a comprehensive tobacco control effort. No one individual or organization can do it all, and the team has to be credible. This means that when the community looks at what the team does, they see reasonable, dedicated people working for the good of the community. It also means they see a diverse group of people working together: people from different neighborhoods, different backgrounds, different jobs, etc. These are the foundational concepts for our support of team efforts within districts and our mini-grant program. 

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

Public schools that have already adopted the 100% comprehensive tobacco-free school policy and are seeking continued funding for activities/projects, as well as public schools working toward adopting the 100% comprehensive tobacco-free model policy. 

FUNDING PRIORITIES

Funds are to be used to advance the 100% comprehensive tobacco-free school model policy or to enforce an existing 100% comprehensive tobacco-free school model policy. Funding priority will be given to school district teams with activities that support major components of the CDC's comprehensive Guidelines for School Health Programs to Prevent Tobacco Use and Addiction

Examples of activities in support of these guidelines include (but are not limited to):

  • Tobacco-use education in kindergarten through 12th grade, with especially intensive instruction in middle schools. Instruction should include information about the short and long term effects of tobacco use, social influences on tobacco use, peer norms regarding tobacco use, and refusal skills (approved curricula available on the DHEC website);
  • Training for school personnel regarding policy, programs and curricula in support of 100% tobacco-free schools (Online guide for administrators available on DHEC website);
  • Parent/family involvement in support of school-based programs and cessation efforts;
  • Referral to cessation services for students;
  • Youth-led, adult-supported, school-wide activities for tobacco-use prevention
  • Signage to announce your tobacco-free school (Available through DHEC)

Sample Sinage

Access The Mini-Grant Application!

Faith-Based Organizations 

Historically, faith based organizations implemented Smoke Free policies for their events and locations.  A desire for more specific language led to the adoption of what was then referred to as Tobacco Free policy.  However, it must be noted that the Tobacco Free policies implemented by the faith community do not meet the same criteria of the Tobacco Free policies for schools, colleges, and universities. While DHEC recommends a more comprehensive Tobacco Free policy, it is up to each organization to determine the extent of the policy adopted.  Promotion of Tobacco Free policy to faith-based organizations is accomplished through DHEC's community partner, Hold Out the Lifeline.

Health Care Facilities 

In conjunction with the SC Hospital Association, DHEC is working to amend the original Tobacco Free policy for this setting to include more comprehensive parameters similar to the Tobacco Free policy used in other settings. Currently, Tobacco Free policy for the Health Care setting does not prohibit the use of e-cigarettes or other alternative nicotine products. 

S.C. hospitals have realized the importance of promoting a positive health message by adopting and enforcing 100% tobacco-free policies for their buildings AND grounds to help ensure protection from secondhand smoke exposure.

Click here for success story Up in Smoke: Tobacco-Free Policies Eliminate Smoking on Hospital Grounds (pdf)

Recreational Settings 

In conjunction with several community partners, DHEC is working to amend the original Tobacco Free policy for this setting to include more comprehensive parameters similar to the Tobacco Free policy used in other settings. Currently, Tobacco Free policy for the Recreational setting does not prohibit the use of e-cigarettes or other alternative nicotine products. 

Work-sites 

Many work-sites are covered under Smoke Free policies implemented by the municipality or county (list of Smoke Free Municipalities) in which they are located.  These policies vary and often only apply to public smoking. While DHEC recommends adoption of a more comprehensive Tobacco Free policy, it is up to each municipality to determine the extent of the policy adopted.

Promotion of Tobacco Free policies for work-sites is a programmatic effort of the SC Tobacco Free Collaborative, a DHEC community partner.  Information regarding current Smoke Free work-sites is available on their website.