Helias campus goes smoke-free

Helias High School’s entire campus — not just inside the building — is now smoke-free, thanks to an initiative spearheaded by faculty and students and supported by parents.

Smokers will no longer be allowed to loiter outside the doors to Rackers Field House. New signage announces the ban, and the ashcans that often propped open doors to the gym’s foyer have been removed.

Most students at the school were not sympathetic to the smokers’ plight.

“Hopefully, it will help them realize the harmful effects that smoking has later on in life,” sophomore Dane Haugen said.

“And it might help them understand we’re trying to keep a healthy environment,” freshman T.J. Hagenhoff added.

Ben Balk, whose wife works for the American Cancer Society, supported the campuswide ban. He noted smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer.

“When smokers congregated outside the gym’s doors, smoke would come pouring into the foyer and the gym area,” he said. “I never liked it.”

None of the students who signed a petition favoring the campuswide ban were worried it would depress attendance at the school’s events.

“I don’t think it will hurt attendance at the games,” Hagenhoff said.

The Jefferson City Public School’s campuses went smoke-free a few years ago; the University of Missouri’s campus will be smoke-free as of July 1.

“It’s never too late to start something like this,” Balk said. “It’s what’s best for our kids and that’s the bottom line.”

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