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The American College Health Association’s suggestion is that colleges and universities develop a strongly worded comprehensive tobacco-free policy that reflects the best practices in tobacco prevention, cessation and control.
Benefits of a Comprehensive Tobacco-Free Policy
While it has become relatively common for colleges and universities to have policies requiring that all buildings, including residential housing, be smoke-free and/or tobacco-free indoors, many colleges and universities have not updated or adjusted policies to include outdoor use. Campuses can take part in reducing the impact tobacco use has on Texans each year by creating a new tobacco-free policy or strengthening an existing policy.
Comprehensive tobacco-free policies do more than protect the health of campus communities and environment. College campuses endure institutional costs associated with campus tobacco use, and new or updated policies can help protect campus facilities and the bottom-line as well as protect student and employee health.
Improve Student and Employee Health
Creating a tobacco-free environment protects individuals from secondhand smoke and secondhand aerosol from electronic cigarettes. Current tobacco users may be encouraged to seek cessation services or reduce use when a comprehensive tobacco-free policy is implemented.
Reduce staff time spent on maintenance of campus facilities as well as loss of productivity and sick leave. Valuable staff time is saved when time is no longer spent emptying ashtrays and picking up cigarette butts and other tobacco waste.
Avoid Legal Liability
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) colleges are required to maintain accessible campuses and provide reasonable accommodation for students and employees with medical conditions such as asthma that are triggered by secondhand smoke.
Enhance Overall Campus Environment
Comprehensive tobacco-free policies can encourage current users to quit, prevent initiation of tobacco use by non-users, and protect the campus buildings and environment from tobacco litter and smoke residue. Ultimately, this can generate social, economic, and environmental benefits for the college that will impact its bottom line.
Smoke-Free vs. Comprehensive Tobacco-Free
An increasing number of colleges and universities are adopting comprehensive tobacco-free policies. As of January 1, 2015, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF) documented that in the United States “there are now at least 1,514 100% smoke-free campuses. Of these, 1,014 are 100% tobacco-free, and 587 prohibit the use of e-cigarettes anywhere on campus.” While smoke-free policies and comprehensive tobacco-free policies share many similarities, they also exhibit a number of differences. Texans Standing Tall reviewed definitions from a variety of reputable sources such as ANRF and Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative among others to create working definitions as indicated below.
So what’s the difference?
A smoke-free policy is one that limits or eliminates the use of smoke-producing tobacco, such as cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, mini-cigars, and hookahs. It may include innovations in smoke or tobacco products that emit a smoke-like substance such as electronic cigarettes or other nicotine delivery devices.
A tobacco-free policy limits or eliminates any tobacco product, including but not limited to any lighted or unlighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, bidi, hookah, and all forms of smokeless tobacco and any nicotine delivery device, such as electronic cigarettes.
A comprehensive tobacco-free policy eliminates the use of any tobacco product, including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, mini cigars, hookahs, spit tobacco, snus, and other smokeless products. It also includes innovations in smoke or tobacco products and nicotine delivery devices, such as electronic cigarettes. A comprehensive tobacco-free policy may also address tobacco sales, marketing, sponsorship, and investments.
Developing your Comprehensive Tobacco-Free Campus Policy
Changing an existing policy or creating a new policy is a process. However, creating a comprehensive tobacco-free policy can be done with minimal staff time and resources. A variety of organizations and individuals have been working on college tobacco issues for many years and provide a wealth of knowledge. Rather than reinventing the wheel, Texans Standing Tall has highlighted several policy toolkits from organizations nationwide that campuses might find useful in creating or updating their campus policy.
Resources for Comprehensive Tobacco Policy Change on Campus