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Tobacco-Free School District Certification

The process to certify districts and county offices of education as meeting California Health and Safety Code requirements as tobacco-free.

This page provides parents, teachers, students, administrators, coaches and community advocates with information about the California Department of Education’s (CDE) tobacco-free school district certification process.

A tobacco-free school prohibits all tobacco use anytime, anywhere by anyone on all school property, and at all school-sponsored events (California Health and Safety Code Section 104420 [n][2]). School property includes buildings, grounds and vehicles owned or leased by the school. School-sponsored events include sporting events, school dances and other events held on and off school property.

The goal of the CDE's tobacco-free school district certification process is to protect our children's health by encouraging all school districts and county offices of education (COEs) in California to adopt a model 100 percent tobacco-free policy. CDE staff works closely with the California Department of Public Health’s California Tobacco Control Program to promote smoke-free environments and tobacco-free lifestyles throughout the state, particularly among California youth.

To assist school districts in the preparation and implementation of a tobacco-free school district policy, the CDE has developed a Comprehensive Tobacco-Free School Policy Toolkit (DOC; 1MB). This toolkit provides resources that schools and school districts can use to establish and promote a tobacco-free school policy. Resources include effectiveness, value and benefits of tobacco-free school policies;  recommendations for policy adoption, communication, and enforcement; frequently asked questions; sample model policy, sample parent letter, sample consequences for policy violations; checklist for model policies; and additional resources.

School districts are certified by the COE in which the district resides as meeting the requirements of California Health and Safety Code. COE's are certified by the CDE’s Coordinated School Health and Safety Office.

Certified Tobacco-Free School Districts and COEs (PDF; Updated 17-Dec-2015)
Certified school districts and COEs that meet the California Health and Safety Code Tobacco-Free Schools requirements. Local educational agencies certified as tobacco-free are eligible to apply for Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Funding from the CDE.

Tobacco-Free Certification Form (DOC; Revised 02-May-2014)
Form and instructions detailing the documentation school districts must provide to COEs to obtain tobacco-free schools district certification. These same documents apply to COEs seeking certification from the CDE.

Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions and answers about Tobacco-Free School District Certification.

Sample Policies and Regulations

These samples are made available by permission from the California School Boards Association (CSBA) to assist school districts and COEs in developing board adopted tobacco-free policies and regulations to enforce the policies. More information can be found at CSBA’s Policy Service Programs External link opens in new window or tab. or by calling 916-371-4691.

Business and Noninstructional Operations


Definition of Tobacco Products

Neither California Health and Safety Code nor the sample policy and regulation documents above, define the term "tobacco products." School districts and COEs are encouraged to include such a definition in their tobacco-free schools policy. The policy should prohibit the use of products containing tobacco and nicotine including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, miniature cigars, smokeless tobacco, snuff, chew, clove cigarettes and nicotine delivery devices, such as electronic cigarettes. Exceptions may be made for the use or possession of prescription nicotine products.

Use of Funds Guidance

TUPE Acceptance of Funds Guidance
School districts and COEs are encouraged to include language in their policies and administrative regulations that addresses the consequences of accepting tobacco-use prevention or intervention funds or materials from the tobacco industry or from entities receiving funds or materials from the tobacco industry. The acceptance of such funds or materials represents an inherent conflict of interest with the CDE’s goal of educating youth to make positive choices leading to a healthy and productive life. Local educational agencies receiving TUPE funds from the CDE are required to adhere to this prohibition as a condition of funding.

Questions: John Lagomarsino | | 916-323-1540 
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, December 16, 2015
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