- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

SCOOBA, Miss. (AP) - East Mississippi Community College is joining several other college campuses that have implemented a tobacco-free policy.

EMCC President Dr. Thomas Huebner said Thursday that the new policy affecting all of its campuses will go into effect Jan. 1.

In a news release, Huebner said the policy is part of a larger health and wellness initiative to be implemented through a partnership with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. In May, the foundation approved a $211,086 grant to EMCC to update exercise equipment at the Scooba Wellness Center and provide health and wellness programs to benefit students, faculty and staff at the college as well as Kemper County students and residents.

Kate McCarty, EMCC director of wellness and intramurals, said one of the grant requirements is to offer health and wellness events for schools and residents in the county. The college will host family fun days, fun runs and other events that will include exercise and nutrition components. EMCC’s food vendor, Sodexo, is offering an expanded salad bar and will provide nutrition information for menu items.

McCarty said the company that provides vending machine services also has agreed to supplement chips and candy bars with healthier alternatives, such as nuts and granola bars.

Of the 15 community and junior colleges in Mississippi, EMCC was among a few without a tobacco-free policy in place. While the policy will be implemented at all campuses, many of the new health and wellness initiatives will be limited to the Scooba campus for now.

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