Tuesday, May 17, 2022
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Smoke-free policies move closer to home

Several colleges and universities in the Midwest have recently adopted smoke-free (cigarettes) and tobacco-free (all tobacco, including cigarettes, chew and snuff) policies.

The University of Missouri (MU) will be smoke-free by Jan. 1, 2014. The University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) has been tobacco-free since Jan. 1, 2012. Johnson County Community College (JCCC) has been smoke-free as of Aug. 1, 2011.

According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, as of July 1, 2012, at least 774 campuses in the U.S. are 100 percent smoke-free. Of these, 562 have a 100 percent tobacco-free policy.

While UMKC is nowhere near smoke-free, it has a smoking policy implemented in October 2006 that limits smoking to one of 32 designated areas. In September 2006, the Hospital Hill campus implemented a more stringent policy – no smoking on university property, except for a single designated area. Smoking is also not permitted in any university vehicle.

In October 2007, Residential Life implemented a smoking policy for the residence halls, banning all smoking, including in resident rooms.

“Smoking is not permitted in any part of the complexes, including student rooms or apartments,” the policy says. “Improper disposal of butts may lead to disciplinary action.”

William Leutzinger, director of Environmental Health and Safety, said the policy was instituted under Vice Chancellor Larry Gates, who put unit supervisors in charge of implementing and overseeing the policy.

“It has been my administrative practice to lend the requested support to those unit supervisors who have been given the authority to enforce the policy within their facilities,” he said.

Leutzinger cited a study published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as saying tobacco use is responsible for approximately 443,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

“I believe if UMKC were to adopt a tobacco-free policy and provide the necessary support to administer such a policy, it would be a healthy decision for our community,” he said.

While the smoking policy (which can be found on the Environmental Health and Safety website under “Fire Safety”) cites the director of Environmental Health and Safety as having the responsibility and authority for implementation and administration of the policy, Leutzinger said he was not given authority or funding for such implementation or administration.

John Martellaro, director of Media Relations, said no one has asked for discussions about changing the UMKC smoking policy, so there have been no such discussions.

“The university certainly remains open to considering changes similar to those made at other UM System campuses, if there are requests from student, faculty and/or staff groups to do so,” he said.

The JCCC policy came about three years ago as an initiative by the Student Senate, which was very energetic about forming a non-smoking policy, according to Dr. Dana Grove, executive vice president and COO of Educational Planning and Development.

“They did surveys around the campus for the students,” Grove said. “I don’t remember the exact percentage, but it was something like two-to-one in favor of going tobacco-free.”

Grove said within the first year of the policy, some students were vocal against it.

“The Student Senate held an open forum and we fielded questions about the policy,” he said. “There were some angry smokers, but I was pleased with the number of non-smokers who attended and were verbal in supporting the policy.”

The JCCC Campus Police Department enforces the tobacco-free policy, issuing $10 tickets for violations. An appeal can be filed within 10 business days of receiving the ticket, and an unpaid ticket after those 10 days can result in a student’s records being placed on “hold.”

Grove stressed the positive effects of the policy.

“The campus has become cleaner because of the policy,” he said. “We’ve got a pretty campus, and now you don’t see cigarette butts everywhere. It’s a noticeable change.”

The MU smoking policy has been a more gradual change. As of July 1, 2011, smoking has only been permitted in designated outdoor areas (see http://smokefree.missouri.edu for a map of the areas). Although the campus is working in conjunction with the T.E. Atkins UM Wellness Program  and the Wellness Resource Center to provide faculty, staff and students with smoking-cessation programs, the website says the university is not asking anyone to quit.

Chancellor Brady Deaton said the smoke-free policy at MU is based on recommendations from groups representing students, faculty and staff.

“I understand that this change will be difficult for those who may have smoked for many years and previously attempted to quit,” Deaton said. “Together, we will continue to build a healthy learning community at Mizzou.”

mheiman@unews.com

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