The Maneater

New policy clears the air by banning all tobacco product use on campus

The university has been smoke-free since 2013, but the new policy will also include all tobacco product, like chewing tobacco.

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MU has added to its existing smoke-free policy to include all tobacco products banned on campus. The new policy now includes any tobacco, electronic nicotine devices and hookah products as of Aug. 20.

The new policy was developed last June by the Tobacco Free Mizzou Committee, Kevin Everett, associate professor and chairman of the committee, said. Everett’s main academic research is focused on harm caused by tobacco and methods for quitting.

The committee studied campus policies and tobacco control practices at other universities. Everett said the committee found through research that, while educating students is important to quitting and reducing tobacco use, policy change has proven to be most effective.

In 2013, MU adopted a smoke-free policy, banning smoking inside or within 20 feet of the entrance of any building. The policy has been amended and revised several times since then, Everett said, with this as the most recent addition.

Last fall, MU received a grant from the American Cancer Society’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative to assist with costs for developing and implementing the new policy. Everett said that the money has been used for printing new signs for around campus and other strategic communication efforts to increase awareness of the new policy.

The committee also consists of faculty, staff and student ambassadors working with the Wellness Resource Center to enforce the policy.

Student ambassador and junior Haydn Sloan Elsey said the policy was motivated after noticing changing tobacco trends, especially with a rise in smokeless tobacco among college students.

Everett said those who are caught in violation of the policy will be connected with resources available through the university to quit using tobacco. Most of the people they speak to are provided with verbal warnings and are unaware of any existing policy, senior and student ambassador Sonia Clark said. She said that a lot of people she’s spoken to assumed that only cigarettes are banned and that vape pens were not included in the smoke-free policy.

The committee hired six student ambassadors to make rounds on campus in order to locate and notify violators, Everett said. Clark said that a lot of the people she’s approached have been well-receiving of being told they’re in violation, are apologetic and put away what they’d been using.

Everett said he and the student ambassadors are aware that they can’t find everyone using tobacco, especially those who may be consuming smokeless tobacco and can be less visible to the public eye.

However, Clark said that while they may not be able to “catch” everyone using tobacco, they can help reduce tobacco use on campus overall.

There is also a “report an issue” link at tobaccofree.missouri.edu, which takes users to a heat map and a survey, for members of the university community.

“We have great resources on campus already for students, staff and faculty to promote a healthy lifestyle,” Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said in a press release. “Becoming a tobacco-free campus will help us be a healthier place to work and to learn.”

Edited by Caitlyn Rosen | crosen@themaneater.com

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