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Friday, July 01, 2011

USI is now a tobacco-free campus

Contact for more information:
Sarah Harlan
Administrative Associate
News & Information Services
The University of Southern Indiana is now officially a tobacco-free campus. A directional sign at the entrance to campus states USI is tobacco-free. Ashtrays, once visible on campus, have been removed.

The new policy, announced in fall 2010, states tobacco use will be permitted only in private vehicles and by residents of student housing in designated outdoor areas near housing facilities. The policy applies to all University-owned, -operated, and -leased property and vehicles. View the tobacco-free policy in its entirety here.

The policy aims to promote a clean and healthy working and learning environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. "When developing this policy, we tried to be sensitive to smokers' needs and rights," said Dave Enzler, director of Recreation, Fitness, and Wellness and co-chair of the Tobacco-Free Committee. "This policy is not anti-smoker. It's about having a campus with clean air."

The USI Tobacco-Free Committee, realizing how difficult it is to quit smoking, is offering smoking cessation classes free to USI staff, faculty, and students. Each class consists of four one-hour sessions in University Center West Room 214 from 2 to 3 p.m. The next class dates are Tuesdays, July 19 and 26 and August 2 and 9. Additional classes, as well as student classes, will be made available beginning the new school year. Employees may use the Time to Get Fit program, with the approval of their supervisor, for this program. Forms for Time to Get Fit are available here.

The cessation classes are conducted by trained facilitators Stephanie Walden-Schwake, assistant director of Recreation, Fitness, and Wellness, and Christine Tolis, assistant program director for student wellness. The classes focus on different triggers and trouble situations, as well as help develop a personalized plan to stay tobacco-free. "We realize this will be hard work but it is possible," Tolis said. "And research shows the best way to quit is through nicotine replacement combined with a cessation program." Individuals who participate in the cessation program are eligible to receive a voucher for one week's supply of over-the-counter nicotine replacement product (patches, gum, or lozenges). Group facilitators help determine which product is best for each individual.

Success of this policy will depend on all members of the campus community complying with and encouraging others to comply in order to ensure a healthy environment to work, study, and live. Primary enforcement of this policy will be the responsibility of those persons who head individual units, departments, buildings, student housing units, those who supervise faculty and staff, security personnel, and others designated by the University. "Compliance and the encouragement of others are key to making this new policy effective," Enzler said. "The first six months are going to be crucial and everyone needs to contribute."

In order to improve compliance, the committee created tobacco-free campus cards to distribute on campus that can be downloaded here. The cards have information concerning the policy and the web address of the new tobacco-free site. "It's a less confrontational way to approach someone who is using tobacco on campus," said Todd Wilson, assistant vice president for Marketing and Communications, and co-chair of the USI Tobacco-Free Committee. "We understand it might be a difficult change for some, but as a campus community, we'll all benefit from cleaner air and surroundings."

"This policy has been in the works for several years," Enzler said. "For the University, it's a step forward in joining the many other tobacco-free universities across the nation."

To learn more about tobacco-free USI, visit the tobacco-free site.

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