Multiple speakers addressed the issue of smoking tobacco on college campuses and ASU’s education-based Tobacco-free Initiative, which will begin in August, on Friday in the Tempe campus’s Memorial Union.
U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Nadine Simons, the event’s main speaker, said tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S.
“Every day, 1,200 Americans die from smoking, and each of those people is being replaced by two young smokers,” Simons said.
She said 99 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 26, making college campuses a critical place for tobacco cessation efforts.
Tobacco-free policies have encouraged smokers to quit, reduced negative health outcomes among nonsmokers and changed social norms regarding the acceptability of smoking, Simons said.
“People do not need to quit smoking,” she said. “They just need to respect the policy, and people quitting is a benefit of the policy, but it’s not a key reason to have the policy.”
College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation Dean Teri Pipe discussed collaborations between ASU and the Mayo Clinic, which include promoting healthy choices promotion, preventing disease and focusing around health and well-being.
Pipe said smoking impacts health from before conception through the end of life.
“It’s critically important for us to have a healthy learning and healthy living environment for students, faculty and staff,” Pipe said.
Biochemistry junior Justin Zeien, vice president of the Health and Counseling Student Action Committee, said the tobacco-free initiative began during the 2008-09 school year with the support of University President Michael Crow and signatures from more than 3,300 students.
Zeien said he helped lead the initiative since 2011.
“My motivation has developed into a passion for improving the health of the ASU public and promoting healthy lifestyles,” he said. “We don’t want to say they can’t smoke; we just want to say respect the rights of the people that aren’t smoking.”
Jillian McManus, director of Organizational Health and Development at ASU, said the University’s current policy states that smokers must be 25 feet away from any entrance.
Beginning Aug. 1, a new policy will ban the use of tobacco on all four campuses.
“There will be no tobacco use on any of the properties that we own, lease or rent,” McManus said.
Although there will be no enforcement penalties for not implementing the policy, those on campus are expected to respect the policy, she said.
Resources for people interested in quitting and for those who want to know more about the policy can find information online at https://students.asu.edu/tobaccofree.
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