By July 1, 2016, Missouri University of Science and Technology intends to join more than 1,000 other colleges and universities in the U.S. by becoming a tobacco-free campus.
“The research is clear that tobacco use constitutes a significant health hazard,” says Dr. Cheryl B. Schrader, Missouri S&T’s chancellor. “As a university, we recognize our responsibility to promote a healthy environment to protect the current and future health of our students, faculty, staff and visitors. We also recognize the need for a smooth transition to a tobacco-free environment, which is why we are waiting until next July to fully implement the change.”
The tobacco-free policy under development by campus leaders would prohibit the use of any tobacco-derived or tobacco-containing product on property owned or controlled by Missouri S&T, including property under lease or other contractual arrangements and vehicles owned, leased or rented by the university.
Products prohibited under the proposed policy would include cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and vapes, cigars and cigarillos, hookah-smoked products, pipes, and oral and nasal tobacco products. The use of products intended to mimic tobacco products or the smoking of any other substance would also be prohibited.
According to the 2015 Missouri College Health Behavior Survey, only 15 percent of Missouri S&T students smoke on a daily basis and 88 percent of those who smoke want to quit. Over 71 percent of Missouri S&T students believe that S&T should have smoke-free outdoor areas.
A tobacco-free campus also helps prepare today’s students for the future workplace, says Dr. Dennis Goodman, director of student health at Missouri S&T and a member of the working group drafting the tobacco-free campus policy. “Many worksites, school grounds, and health care, recreation and transportation facilities have become 100 percent smoke-free or tobacco-free,” he says.
The move toward a tobacco-free campus also aligns with recommendations from University of Missouri System President Timothy M. Wolfe. In a May 22 memo to Schrader and the chancellors of the UM System’s other three campuses, Wolfe urged the campus leaders “to implement policies to reduce tobacco use and promote health.”
“While the use of tobacco is a personal choice,” Wolfe wrote, “the health hazards related to smoking and exposure to second- and third-hand smoke are well-documented by the Surgeon General.”
Missouri S&T leaders plan to hold open forums to discuss the proposed policy in October. Student Council plans to hold a forum for students in early October but a date has not yet been determined. An open forum for all students, faculty and staff will be held at noon Thursday, Oct. 15, in the Meramec-Gasconade Room of the Havener Center.
More information about the tobacco-free policy under development is available online at http://hr.mst.edu/rewards/wellness/tobacco-freecampus/. Information on how to quit tobacco is available at http://www.umsystem.edu/totalrewards/wellness/tobacco_cessation. Also, in 2016 the university will offer a discount on medical insurance premiums for employees who are tobacco free or in a cessation program.