MU will join more than 800 other colleges and universities in banning all smoking on campus grounds, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs announced Thursday in the Traditions Lounge in the MU Student Center.
Originally, MU’s plans called for smoking to be banned from campus in January 2014. MU will now transition to being "100 percent smoke-free" on July 1, 2013, joining more than 800 other colleges nationwide.
Student advocates such as Missouri Students Association President Xavier Billingsley have been working to get that date moved up, saying there is no reason to wait.
“This is one of the most exciting times for me to be here, to see this fulfilled,” Billingsley said. “Even though I won’t be here to reap the benefits myself, I am excited for future students, and hopefully one day my own kids, to be here on a smoke-free campus.”
The announcement follows previous steps toward preventing tobacco use on campus. Smoking on campus was banned in buildings in 2009 and then relegated to designated smoking areas this year. The administration did not experience as much opposition to the changes as they expected.
“We walked in one day, and (these areas) were smoke-free, and people just said, ‘OK, I get it,’ and got on with their lives,” Scroggs said.
The announcement fell in line with MU’s observance of the Great American Smokeout, an event which promotes quitting the use of tobacco products. American Cancer Society representative Ed Johnson congratulated MU on taking the next step to a tobacco-free campus and spoke to raise awareness of the smokeout.
“Smokers may use this day to quit altogether or put in place a plan to quit smoking,” Johnson said. “Smoking is one of the few things in life where it is OK to be a quitter.”
The initiative, which Billingsley has pressed for through much of his time as president, will also serve as an opportunity for the Student Health Center to educate students about the many resources they have to get on the path to quitting.
Billingsley said he attributes much of the success in moving the date to next summer to the work of students.
“This just shows why it is so important for students to advocate for their own needs,” Billingsley said.
MU is making the correct decision, Scroggs said.
“Sometimes it is more important to do the right thing than to do things right, and in this case I think the university has done the right thing,” she said.