PASS, campus work toward smoke-free environment

Campus aims to be smoke-free by Jan. 1, 2014.

Peers Advocating Smoke-free Solutions held a meeting Tuesday in the Wellness Resource Center to discuss plans for this year, as well as new resources available to help students quit smoking.

PASS President Jenna Jordan said less than 6 percent of MU students are daily smokers, and PASS is working to make that percentage even smaller.

PASS is a student organization advocating tobacco prevention and cessation. They offer students resources to help quit, including counseling and eight weeks of free nicotine patches funded by a grant. Although it isn't free, the Student Health Center is also offering prescription medication to help students quit.

PASS helped to implement the smoke-free policy at MU, which went into effect Jan. 20, 2009. According to the policy, smoking is not allowed inside or within 20 feet of the entrance of any campus building.

According to the American Lung Association, secondhand smoke causes almost 50,000 deaths in adult non-smokers in the U.S. every year.

Explaining the rationale for the smoke-free policy, the 2009-2010 Tiger Guide stated, "Residential Life is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all its residents."

As of fall semester 2009, Residential Life shares the campus policy with only one exception. Smoking on balconies and porches is restricted in all residence halls and lodges, except Mizzou Quads.

"A student (at Mizzou Quads) who wanted to comply with the policy would have to walk all the way out to Old 63 to smoke. We didn't think that was particularly realistic," Residential Life Director Frankie Minor said.

MU plans to allow smoking only at designated smoking stations by July 1, 2011, and be a 100 percent smoke-free campus by Jan. 1, 2014.

Some students said a smoke-free policy is inconvenient or annoying at worst. Students said they're already used to indoor smoking bans in their hometowns.

"I used to live in Chicago, and the rule there was 15 feet (outside public buildings), so I just do that," freshman Kevin Kaler said.

Smoking bans are becoming more and more common. According to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, 22 states have enacted smoke-free laws in workplaces, restaurants and bars, and well more than half of the 50 states have implemented bans in one or two of these areas. At least 302 college campuses in the U.S. are 100 percent smoke-free. Earlier this year, proposals were made to ban smoking in Missouri. In 2007, Columbia banned smoking in most public places.

"The policy is self-enforcing," Jordan said. "No one is going around giving out tickets. This isn't to victimize smokers who are law abiding citizens."

Freshman Evan Cook said the ban isn't going to change his mind about smoking.

"If I'm going to quit, it will be my decision. People should just practice common courtesy," Cook said. "If someone is obviously bothered by the smoke, then move over 10 or 15 feet."

Any student who wants more information on PASS or help to quit smoking can go to the Wellness Resource Center in Bingham Commons or for free help. The Student Health Center also has resources to help quit.

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