Smoke-free campus : Letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

We appreciate the time and attention that UVU has been giving to the important discussion about becoming a Tobacco-Free campus. This has been a topic of conversation for many years across the nation and we are no exception here at UVU.

For the last 6 years, we have had student groups who have tried to implement a stricter policy toward tobacco products on campus. This year, UVUSA Senate has received multiple questions, comments and complaints on this very topic.

These concerns were brought forward by faculty and students via our online feedback system, Student Voice, and in person.  After discussion being brought up year after year, UVUSA Senate decided to conduct some research on how other campuses are approaching this topic, and if it really is something that is right for UVU.

This previous fall we asked students, through the Institutional Research and Information (IRI) OMNIBUS survey, if UVU should become a Tobacco-Free campus. This survey was also conducted in 2011.

In that 2011 survey, the question was, “There is a growing trend nationwide towards smoke-free campuses. Are you in favor of UVU becoming a smoke-free campus?” The results stated that 77 percent of students were in favor of it and only 9 percent of students were opposed to the idea, the remaining respondents were indifferent.

As we submitted the same question to compare results from 2011 to 2014, we found that again 77 percent of students were in favor of UVU going smoke-free.  The only difference is that more students chose to remain neutral on the subject and only 7 percent of students were opposed to the idea.

We also found that last year there were more than 1,100 higher education institutes in the country that adopted tobacco free policies. Within this last year that number of both private and public institutions has jumped to over 1,500 campuses. This includes campuses like UCLA, University of Michigan, University of Louisville, and many more. In fact, Dixie State University was the first Utah higher education institution to go tobacco free this last year.

With this information we have been in deep conversation with multiple entities across campus, including Faculty Senate, P.A.C.E., International Student Council, Multicultural Student Council, Kyle Reyes, Michelle Taylor, and many others. We are doing this with one goal in mind: to find what is best for UVU.

We have also held meetings with UVU’s Wellness programs and we have worked on building a partnership with the Utah County Health Department.  Within these meetings we have discussed ways to amplify our cessation programs and offer more resources to students, faculty and staff.

These cessation programs will include free use of waytoquit.org, online coaching, 1-800-QUITNOW, which will provide free nicotine replacement therapy and cessation classes such as Freedom from Smoking. These cessation programs will be available to UVU students in over 20 languages, all for free.

We are continually searching for input and discussion on this subject.  UVU has not made any decision on if we should become a Tobacco Free campus. Instead we have only opened the dialogue and began researching ideas and ways to address this concern.

We would like to stress that everyone has a voice here on campus and we are willing to listen.  If you have any ideas for further discussion or concerns about this subject or anything else happening on campus, please visit http://www.uvu.edu/uvusa/studentvoice/. A copy of our Tobacco-Free campus proposal is also available on this website.

 

Sincerely,

Justin Higgins, Senator of the College of Health and Science

Mallory Wallin, Vice President of Academic Senate

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