UVU: no smokes please

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Thomas Hall, Staff writer [email protected]

The mission of NUVU is to persuade the Utah Valley University administration to adopt a comprehensive tobacco-free policy. The mission is designed to support the Utah Department of Health and the Utah County Health Department in achieving the goal “To create an anti-tobacco social media campaign, targeting at-risk 18-24 year olds in Utah County.” Because our student body fits the goal of the target demographic there is no better way to get involved than by affecting change at the UVU policy level.

NUVU stands for Non-Tobacco Utah Valley University. It was conceived of by a group of community health majors for a social marketing class but after support and interest from other students and faculty, the idea has taken root outside of the classroom. In the state of Utah it is estimated that 6.5% of young adults engage in smoking. While this number is significantly lower than the national averages, it is nonetheless a concern to the health of our student body the health of our community.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “in 2011, the tobacco industry spent $8.4 billion on cigarette advertising and promotional expenses in the United States alone.”

“According to a report from the Surgeon General of the United States, any exposure to secondhand smoke is dangerous to the human body, including incidental exposure as you walk past someone smoking,” said Dr. James Bemel of the Department of Public and Community Health at UVU.

“Furthermore, students with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma shouldn’t be forced to find alternate routes entering or exiting a building in an effort to avoid tobacco smoke which may exacerbate their symptoms. Everyone has the right to breathe clean air and avoid being exposed to the deadly chemicals found in tobacco smoke.”

We can be a part of making our campus and our community safe from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke by choosing to adopt a tobacco-free policy at UVU. A student led and student driven campaign is the best way to make a change.

Research done by the CDC shows that, “Each year, primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer, more than 46,000 die of heart disease, and about 150,000–300,000 children younger than 18 months have lower respiratory tract infections.  Coupled with this enormous health toll is the significant economic burden of tobacco use—more than $96 billion a year in medical costs and another $97 billion a year from lost productivity.”

The list of tobacco-free colleges and universities grows longer every year.  In a recent (2013) study by the American College Health Association (ACHA), it was documented that there are approximately, “…1,178 100% smoke-free campuses… [And] of these, 793 have a 100% tobacco-free policy.”

The only school in the state of Utah that makes the ACHA list is Brigham Young University. The tobacco-free program at BYU is simple; prior to enrollment at BYU, students are interviewed and given a signed ecclesiastical endorsement. This document serves as an admission by the student that they are actively living the Honor Code and that they intend to continue living the Honor Code while a student at BYU. The Honor Code program is an extension of the university’s core Latter-day Saint tenets to live a healthy life free from alcohol consumption and tobacco products in all their forms.

In the fall of 2013, Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, announced their campus policy change from permissible use 25 feet from a building entrance to a zero tobacco policy. The change came about slowly, buzz generated around the campus, then students joined together to help push the policy forward to their school administrators. The change to a tobacco-free policy joined Dixie State with BYU as the only two higher institutions of education in the state where tobacco is prohibited.

While Brigham Young University’s program is effective because of its religious foundations, it will not satisfy the needs of a state funded institution like Utah Valley University where there is greater religious freedom, expression and diversity.

It is necessary to establish a tobacco-free policy change at UVU to serve our unique Wolverine spirit. Old Joe Camel has to die.


8 thoughts on “UVU: no smokes please

  1. I absolutely loathe smoking, but I can’t get on board with this.

    I wish people didn’t smoke, but I also accept that it’s their choice to do so and as long as I’m not stuck in an enclosed space with them, I accept it. I personally don’t believe we have any place telling people they cannot smoke outside on campus. Honestly I’m more concerned that students, administration, and professors can carry guns on campus.

  2. Yeah, we to continue the tradition of UVU being BYU-Lite, we find something offensive so natuarally our first instinct is to BAN it, I feel like I live in a combination of Groundhog Day and Monty Pythons Holy Grail. ….Same thing everyday “Shes a witch BURN HER!” “HE SMOKES BAN HIM!” I will be tickled when I get away from all these judgmental self righteous holier than thou Utah “Saints” and back to the land of normal people

  3. I believe this issue is not a religious, it is a public health issue. Dixie State just created a tobacco free policy and Weber State and Utah State are actively talking about it. Do we really want to be the last one’s to help our students be healthy? Smoking kills people that is a fact, and we aren’t telling them not to smoke, we are just telling them not to smoke here. Policies save millions of people seatbelts, airbags, speed bumps, etc. save millions and so will creating a tobacco free campus. Your unhealthy decisions affect not only you, but everyone around you. Think about it. This is brilliant!

  4. I am 100% on board with this because of the dangers of second-hand smoking. There are so many health risks associated with second hand smoking, many of which can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/index.htm

    There are rules about being 25 feet away from buildings when you smoke, which I am grateful for. But when you’re walking up the sidewalk to school, and someone lights up in front of you… there aren’t many ways to avoid being exposed without walking through the snow or mud. I have been in multiple situations on campus where I just can’t avoid breathing in the cigarette smoke of someone else.

    I respect the rights of students to smoke, but I also respect the rights of the majority of students who don’t smoke. They have chosen a healthy lifestyle, and have the right to continue to pursue that.

  5. I totally agree with this! And I agree with Rachelle in that it is by no means a religious issue. Believe it or not there are Non- religious people who choose not to smoke simply because it is a major health issue and it has so many adverse health affects. Making uvu a tobacco free campus is a common courtesy. Every time I walk by the library I get smoke blown at my face. I don’t appreciate the second hand smoke seeing as how it’s already bad enough we have to breath in the horrible air pollution. I solute a smoke free campus!

  6. I agree completely! Adopting a smoke free campus policy will improve the health of UVU students, and introducing resources for those students that use tobacco to quit will take that to the next level. Exposing another person and yourself to the harmful effects of cigarettes just sucks, and sometimes there’s just not a good way to go around a group of smokers.

    Smoke-free is the way college campuses are headed all across the US and joining in early adoption of this policy will prove that UVU is concerned about the health of its students no matter where they are on campus and will set a great trend for adopting healthy policy in the future.

  7. Great article! All things said-the main issue NUVU is concerned about is the healh and safety of the students. Same reason there are no skateboarding signs or construction signs, a no smoking sign is the same concept: to keep the campus hazards to a minimum. Any policy made isn’t going to please everyone, but wonderful initiative made by Tom and all those who advocate with NUVU.

  8. USU (Utah State University) is in the process of having a tobacco free campus. Something interesting to back up the argument that Tobacco Free Campuses are not a religious decision: “The number of smoke-free college campuses in the U.S. has reached 1,812” — a number that has more than doubled since 2011, according to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights lobbying group. There are almost 2,000 campuses in our nation that have tobacco free campuses and only 2 of them are in Utah. Lets make this change to be a healthier University.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.