West Hills Community College District Adopts Smoke- and Tobacco-free Policy

The policy aims to protect students, staff and visitors from secondhand smoke and support efforts to quit tobacco use

April 8, 2024

FresnoCalif. – Starting August 1, all West Hills Community College District sites and campuses across the Central Valley will prohibit the use of any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The Board of Trustees approved the smoke- and tobacco-free policy on March 12.

Student interns with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s Voices Inspiring Valley Action (VIVA) project were instrumental in collecting data, educating and garnering support from peers and faculty, and providing comments before the Board of Trustees.

“Growing up, I saw how my aunt struggled to quit smoking while my cousin struggled with asthma. Witnessing the negative impact on their health motivated me to help protect my community from the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke. I’m proud of our work to make the West Hills Community College District campuses healthier places to work, learn and thrive,” said Christine Gomez, Lemoore College student and VIVA intern.

Smoke- and tobacco-free policies are critical to protect people from secondhand smoke, which, even outdoors, poses significant health risks.

“We commend West Hills Community College District for heeding students’ concerns and adopting this measure to create a supportive environment for those trying to quit, while protecting everyone’s right to breathe clean, smoke-free air,” said Dulce Velazquez, VIVA project director.

The tobacco industry has a long history of targeting rural populations, particularly young men. As a result, people who live in rural areas are more likely to use tobacco products, start smoking at a younger age, smoke more heavily and be exposed to secondhand smoke than people in urban areas.

“It is no coincidence that the Central Valley has some of the highest tobacco use rates in the state and our California rural communities have higher rates of lung cancer. However, good public health policies can help reduce the devastating toll of tobacco use. VIVA is proud to have empowered and guided our student interns to create change through advocacy,” said Velazquez.

Free resources on quitting tobacco can be found at To learn more about VIVA’s efforts to help prevent cancer through community education, engagement and empowerment, visit

VIVA project student interns sharing information about dangers of tobacco use

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