Clear the Air: UF to Become Entirely Tobacco Free This Summer
To promote optimal health and protect the environment, the University of Findlay will become entirely tobacco free beginning Aug. 1. The tobacco-free policy that has applied only to indoor spaces will expand to include the entire campus. It will also prohibit the use of all products that contain nicotine, such as those used for vaping; and devices used to consume nicotine.
Policy updates were developed by a Tobacco-Free Steering Committee, which formed in September 2017 when UF received a $15,500 grant from the America Cancer Society’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative. The initiative is part of CVS Health’s “Be the First” Campaign that seeks to reduce tobacco use among college students. CVS Health Foundation provided funding. The committee:
- Reviewed tobacco-free policies of other universities;
- Reviewed UF-based data on tobacco use and other environmental factors that may impact the effectiveness and efficiency of a tobacco-free campus policy;
- Drafted a tobacco-free campus policy that includes plans for enactment; and
- Proposed a final policy to cabinet
A campus survey indicated only 4 percent of the student body and 3 percent of faculty and staff use tobacco. Additionally, nearly 400 (out of 700 total) student survey responders said secondhand smoke on campus was a concern for them. More than 54 percent of faculty responders concurred. The majority of both groups also agreed that colleges have a responsibility to reduce the risk of tobacco addiction with policies and services that help their campus community members to break the habit.
Nationwide data was also reviewed, and support for establishing a 100 percent tobacco-free campus environment was highly evident. The number of college campuses in the United States that have or are planning to become tobacco free continues to increase. According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, which publishes a list of campuses that have comprehensive tobacco-free or smoke-free policies in place, 1,805 campuses were entirely tobacco free as of April 1, 2018.
The University’s “Clear the Air” campaign will begin in earnest this summer with traditional and social media outreach, particularly to prospective and current students, faculty, staff and others who work on campus and visit. Led by members of UF’s College of Pharmacy and Health Professions, and by student ambassadors, the campaign will also include fall panel discussions and guest speakers who will address the consequences of tobacco use and emphasize the benefits of living a tobacco-free lifestyle.
“According to the American Cancer Society, about 99 percent of smokers start before age 26,” said Julia Yingling, RN, director of Campus Health Services. Consequently, college campuses, with their majority population comprised of those in their late teens and young adults, are often where most become addicted to nicotine.
Signs will be placed at campus facilities and in other appropriate locations. Athletic events will feature announcements about the updated policy, and ask attendees to respect it; Donnell Stadium is already tobacco free.
Policy offenses will be addressed according to different factors. Campus visitors will be advised of the policy through signage, and will be asked to comply. If, upon being asked, they do not wish to follow the policy, they will be asked to leave campus. Employees and students who are not in compliance with the policy will have the matter addressed according to existing policies pertaining to those groups. Policy exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis for academic research and theatre productions on campus.
Since the focus is on providing education and supporting individuals who wish to stop using tobacco, Cosiano Health Center and Counseling Services will continue to provide tobacco cessation education and resources. Additionally, the American Cancer Society’s group-based Fresh Start Program is offered on campus, and Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay provides many different resources to help encourage cessation.
Rather than being prohibitive, Yingling said she and fellow committee members think the updated policy will make campus more welcoming for everyone.