UA to Go Tobacco-Free

UA to Go Tobacco-Free

By Amanda BallardUniversity Relations - Communications
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The UA's tobacco-free policy takes effect Aug. 15.
The UA's tobacco-free policy takes effect Aug. 15.

The UA will become one of more than 1,300 smoke-free campuses across the nation when its Smoking and Tobacco Use policy takes effect next month.

The policy, expected to take effect on Aug. 15, will prohibit tobacco use in all UA buildings and properties and in University-owned vehicles. Prohibited products include those that contain tobacco or nicotine, including pipes, cigars, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, all types of smokeless tobacco and water pipes.

"Our new Smoking and Tobacco Policy demonstrates the value we place on creating a healthy environment for those who learn and work here," said Allison Vaillancourt, UA vice president for human resources and institutional effectiveness.

"Several members of our community have been advocating for us to join the 1,300 campuses that are now smoke-free and the more than 900 campuses that prohibit all forms of tobacco," said Vaillancourt, who is co-sponsoring the UA's policy with Melissa Vito, senior vice president of student affairs and enrollment management. "The policy was developed based on feedback from hundreds of members of the public and UA community."

The proposed policy language is available here (PDF). Public comments on the policy are being accepted through July 27 and should be sent to Vaillancourt at vaillana@email.arizona.edu. Once the public comment period ends, a final version of the policy will be submitted to President Ann Weaver Hart for final approval.

The UA Faculty Senate voted to endorse the tobacco-free policy in April, following an initial UA community comment period that began in March.

Creating a cleaner, healthier campus

Last year, Arizona State University banned tobacco use on its campuses, and a draft Northern Arizona University policy is under review.

Implementing a tobacco-free policy comes with a variety of benefits, says David Salafsky, director of health promotion and preventative services at the UA Campus Health Service.

"Clearly, there are huge benefits to individual health," Salafsky said. "We know that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death, period. The policy also protects the health of nonsmokers by removing exposure to secondhand smoke. Those are some of the obvious benefits, but there are others as well."

Salafsky said that last year, the UA's Student Health Advocacy Committee led a competition to collect cigarette litter on campus.

"Sixty volunteers collected an astounding 25,000 cigarette butts in just 45 minutes," he said. "So going tobacco-free will also have a positive impact on our campus environment."

UA students and employees have been the driving force behind the policy, both Salafsky and Vaillancourt said. The Student Health Advocacy Committee outlined making campus tobacco-free as one of its goals last year, and started an online petition that received more than 500 signatures.

"The UA is a leader in conducting research in the areas of health and wellness," Vaillancourt said. "It is fitting that we should practice the recommendations reflected in our own research. ... Our hope is that learning, living and working on a smoke- and tobacco-free campus will encourage the small percentage of tobacco users to adopt a healthier lifestyle."

"We are leaders in so many areas here at UA, health and wellness among them," Salafsky said. "This policy is really an extension of that."

The UA offers several resources to those looking to quit smoking:

  • The Arizona Smoker's Helpline provides free telephone-based coaching services to help smokers stay on track when quitting. Services are available in both English and Spanish, and most coaches are former tobacco users, so they can offer advice that's worked first-hand.
  • The Department of Family and Community Medicine's Quit & Win! Tobacco Free Living Program is a personalized, medically supervised program to help smokers and other tobacco users quit.
  • The Campus Health Pharmacy carries a number of tobacco cessation aids.
  • The UA Medical Center's Cost of Smoking Calculator can help tobacco users understand how quitting could help them save thousands of dollars every year.

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