Stage 1 fire restrictions, enacted for unincorporated areas of western Boulder County.

Tobacco-Free Schools
row of the feet of young people

Supporting Tobacco-Free Schools

Tobacco-Free School Policies for Schools

The following information is for school administrators, teachers, nurses, counselors, and coaches.

Implementing and enforcing tobacco-free school policies can be challenging. These resources have been pulled together from reputable sources and partners to help school staff and administrators to:

  • Understand current policies
  • Be equipped to talk about implementing and enforcing tobacco policy
  • Start the conversation with youth
  • Plan classroom activities related to tobacco prevention
  • Provide students with skills on media literacy and how to say no
  • Access resources that support tobacco prevention and control work in schools

For Administrators: Policy, Enforcement, & Disposal

Tobacco-Free School Laws

Tobacco-free school policies ensure that campuses are smoke-free and healthy for all students, staff, and visitors. They require that no students, staff members, or visitors are permitted to smoke, chew, or use any other tobacco or nicotine product on school grounds at any time. E-devices are included in this definition, and schools should not make exceptions for these products. The law is in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and also applies to any vehicles or property being leased or rented for special events.

FDA-approved cessation devices are allowed on school grounds. They include nicotine gum, lozenges, and patches. E-devices may be marketed as cessation devices; however, they are not approved as cessation devices by the FDA. Tobacco-free school policies also require that schools have visible signage to notify the public of their policy (see end of this section for an example). Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) and St. Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD)

Tobacco-Free School Policies

School Enforcement Strategies

Schools and administrators must ensure parity in addressing policy infractions across the school district. Schools should use a progressive discipline approach that ensures consistency. The Public Health Law Center has a helpful resource on this topic.

Below are some alternatives to suspension strategies and programs that may be effective for your school.

Second Chance
Second Chance is a free, online educational program for middle- and high school-age youth who have been caught with tobacco and nicotine products on school property. It includes three modules – community, school, and the home environment. Each module takes about 45-60 minutes to complete. Schools simply need one staff member to be the program administrator and sign the school agreement. The program administrator can then enroll students and view their progress and reports from the program.

INDEPTH (Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, and Tobacco Health) was created by the American Lung Association as an alternative to suspension for young people who are caught with
tobacco and nicotine devices. INDEPTH is designed to be taught by a trained staff member or teacher in four
50-minute lessons. Lessons discuss the health effects of nicotine, how tobacco and nicotine products affect the
lives of participants, and how to track the use of these products. The program includes resources for quitting
and is appropriate for middle and high school youth (ages 11-19). To implement INDEPTH, visit the website and complete a brief survey to gain access. Staff members or teachers who will be implementing INDEPTH can then complete the online training and access all of the lesson plans and materials.

Restorative Processes

Some schools use restorative practices (and the subset, restorative justice) in their school communities. Restorative practices are broad principles that can be included in all aspects of the school community, while restorative justice is usually an alternative to punitive discipline. While most tobacco infractions do not include the interpersonal harm that is usually associated with the restorative justice process, the following principles can be used to address the situation holistically:

  • Attention to relationships between administrators, teachers, and students. Using tobacco or nicotine
    infraction as a way to show students that teachers and administrators care about their health and well-being and not just about enforcing the rules.
  • Wrongdoing is recognized as an opportunity for learning by providing alternative programming and support that focuses on education and reflection rather than punishment.
  • The school community is involved in facilitating restoration by focusing on administrators and teachers helping students access the services they need to prevent future infractions.

Additionally, there may be opportunities to hold a more traditional restorative process. This process could include students looking at their relationships and experiences with tobacco products, as well as how their actions have the potential to cause harm to themselves, family members, and the school community.

Restorative practices can be part of the tobacco infraction process in several different ways, ranging from a conversation following a suspension to an agreement in lieu of suspension and punitive action.

Contact Boulder County Public Health at 303.413.7524 or for resources and
to learn more about what this could look like in your school community.

Safe Disposal of Vape Devices

Vaping devices are increasingly common in schools, and many people do not know that they are considered hazardous waste. The Hazardous Waste Management Facility in Boulder County can safely dispose of these products. Find out how you can implement a safe disposal program in your school.

For Teachers

Lesson Plans

By educating about the risks of tobacco and nicotine use in class, teachers can help to prevent the use of tobacco products. Many schools include these topics in their health or prevention classes. Regardless of the class, young people are most likely to listen and learn from teachers whom they are familiar with, so take the opportunity to discuss these topics with the young people whom you teach.

Learning about tobacco and nicotine products is an important component of any health class and should be discussed along with other substance use topics.

Visit the FDA Prevention and Education Resource Center to find lesson plans, interactive tools, infographics, and videos with tobacco facts and tips about how to teach youth about the dangers of vaping.

Elementary School

Although many young people are not thinking about tobacco and nicotine products in elementary school, some children this age are able to access these items, so it is important to start the discussion early.

Be Vape Free is a free program created for 5th graders to address the use of e-devices. It includes several lesson guides that take 30-40 minutes each to complete. The program provides an educator guide, classroom slides, and all needed materials.

Middle/High School

Data tells us that our high schoolers are already using tobacco and nicotine products, and that our middle schoolers are at least experimenting with them. Ensuring that they have the facts and know the health risks is important, whether they are current users, have experimented, or have never tried a tobacco or nicotine product.

Taking Down Tobacco, created by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, includes three activities on products and their health risks, as well as marketing and advertising tactics used by the tobacco and e-device industries. This program is ideal for middle school-aged students.

Young Minds Inspired: Is it Worth It? includes three lessons intended for use with middle school-aged students. The lessons are activity-based and focus on health effects, marketing, and how to resist peer pressure. A teacher kit and resources are provided. Lessons are also available in Spanish.

Catch My Breath is a free program that covers e-devices. There are different versions: 6th grade, 7th-8th grades, and 9th-12th grades. All versions contain 4 lessons, 30-40-minutes each, that include activities and needed materials.

Know the Risks Virtual Field Trip is a free program about the health risks of e-devices. It features four short videos that discuss these products, their health effects, and how they’re marketed. A companion activity is also available to download and complete with students. The program is appropriate for middle and high school-aged students.

Counter Tobacco Youth and Community Engagement Activities are longer-term projects that examine point-of-sale and advertising. The activities can be done in a classroom setting or to engage youth in policy and decision making in their community. All activities include a downloadable guide with objectives, instructions, and materials. These activities are appropriate for middle and high school-aged students.

The Stanford Tobacco Prevention Toolkit includes 13 lessons covering all tobacco and nicotine products. Lessons include presentations, activities, fact sheets, and discussion guides. The program is appropriate for middle and high school-aged youth.

Scholastic/FDA: The Real Cost of Vaping includes lesson plans on e-devices based on health consequences, a research project, and marketing tactics. Lesson plans, handouts, and additional resources are provided. There are separate programs for grades 6-8 and 9-12; each include 3 lessons.

School Nurses & Counselors

School counselors and nurses can help the young people that they work with to learn about and quit tobacco and nicotine products. They can be a confidante, resource, and support for those who may need cessation education and resources.

Cessation Support

The popularity of e-devices among our youth has led to research and changes in how to best address cessation among young people. Most of the quit resources below include all tobacco and nicotine products and are available whenever a young person is ready to quit. Everyone is different, and some may want to experiment with different options before they decide what program is right for them.

Provide these resources for young people or take action by helping them sign up and start on their quit journey.

My Life, My Quit (855-891-9989) was designed specifically for teens and is available by phone, text, or online. They offer five free coaching sessions and have specific resources to quit e-devices. The website also includes information about the risks of using tobacco and nicotine products for young people who may not be ready to quit.

This is Quitting (text DITCHVAPE to 88709) is a text message cessation program for young people ages 13-24 years who are addicted to e-devices. Once enrolled, participants receive age-specific text messages and can text when they need support. If a young person is not yet ready to quit, they can receive up to four weeks of messages that focus on building the skills and confidence to quit.

N-O-T: Not on Tobacco is a cessation program for young people 12-19 years old developed by the American Lung Association. The program is taught by a trained facilitator in ten 50-minute sessions. Students should enroll voluntarily. Schools interested in implementing N-O-T can complete the facilitator training form on the website to coordinate completing the seven-hour training. Once completed, facilitators will be certified and provided access to all supplies and materials.

SmokeFree Teen is designed to meet teens where they are – their mobile phones. The text messaging program can help teens quit tobacco and nicotine products, and the quitSTART app provides helpful strategies and support to address social situations where young people may use tobacco products.

For Coaches

Physical Activity & Substance Use

Coaches and those leading extracurricular activities are important, trusted adults in young people’s lives, especially for those who may not have a trusted adult with whom they can talk to at home. They have the ability to impact the behaviors and choices of the young people who they work with, particularly those related to substance use.

Watch the substance use and athletic performance training video for coaches above. The training focuses on describing the harms of substance use on athletic performance and provides tips for talking to athletes about it.

Many trainings are available to increase understanding of the risks of tobacco and nicotine, as well as to support positive youth development.

Key Points

  • Coaches can influence their athletes and make a positive impact as a role model.
  • Youth who have a trusted adult to talk to are less likely to use substances.
  • Tobacco use immediately impairs lung and heart functioning, increasing heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Athletes who use tobacco take longer to recover because of the health effects of nicotine.
  • Coaches can be an example for athletes and should talk about substance use often.
  • Focus on positive messages and athletes’ future goals.
  • Make sure that athletes understand the facts – that not everyone is using substances, and it is a positive decision to refuse substances.

Learn more about athletic performance and substance use.


Email to request a training.

Schools & Vaping

This training aims to educate school counselors and other school staff about e-devices so they are equipped to answer questions from young people and parents and educate others about e-devices.

Start the Conversation

This training is for parents, school staff, or community members who work with young people. It includes education about e-devices and how to be a trusted adult to the young people in your lives.

Positive Youth Development

These trainings help to develop skills, opportunities, and authentic relationships to support young people in reaching their full potential. They are offered sporadically across the metro Denver area, and they are generally free or low cost. Type “Colorado Positive Youth Development Training” into any search engine to find upcoming opportunities.

If a young person you know is interested in getting involved in tobacco prevention and advocacy, direct them to to learn about opportunities available in the community. You can also take action by talking to the young people in your life about tobacco products. Talking openly and with accurate information about tobacco products can change the attitudes and behaviors of the young people in your life.

Contact Us

Tobacco Education and Prevention Program (TEPP)

Main: 303-413-7540
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3482 Broadway
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Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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