Overview on the Tobacco and E-cigarette-free Initiative on Campus
Tobacco Free, Smoke Free, Vapor Free
Michigan Tech is committed to providing a healthy, safe and clean campus community. For this reason, the University has gone Tobacco free, Smoke free and Vapor free.
The use of all tobacco products and vapor e-cigarettes is prohibited on all Michigan Tech-owned or leased properties. Students, faculty, staff and visitors are asked to respect this policy and help us create a healthier campus.
When the Tobacco-free Task Force was charged with implementing Michigan Tech’s initial tobacco-free campus policy, they learned that 270 universities had gone tobacco free1 as of March 2012, and 648 had gone smoke free2 as of January 2012. The task force then studied the tobacco-free and smoke-free implementation plans from seven of those institutions.
The schools were chosen based on similar size and environment. All of them were forthcoming about the successes and challenges of their implementation processes. Numerous websites of tobacco-free or smoke-free institutions also were reviewed. Based on this process, the task force identified several critical steps:
- Implement slowly
- Educate thoroughly
- Provide access to help and support
- Communicate clearly and consistently
In December 2014, the administration decided to revise the policy to make Tech Tobacco free, Smoke free and Vapor free, effective Jan. 12, 2015. The new policy was announced to students, faculty and staff in December 2014. Appropriate signage will be posted early in 2015.
1 American Lung Association, 2 American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation: University of Michigan, University of Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State, Purdue, University of Indiana, Portage Hospital, Lansing Community College
A long-term approach to creating a healthier campus is based on a guiding principle of respect for all. This allows time for the University’s message to be conveyed, cessation classes to be offered, habits to be modified and areas of future need identified.
Incidence of Smoking
Trends among US students have shown a steady decline in the use of tobacco products and steady increase in awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco. The 2010 tobacco-use survey at Tech found that only 6 to 7 percent of students and employees are daily users of tobacco products. The employees who are daily users stated that they knew the harmful effects and are aware of the effects of their use on others.
Help and Support
Many tobacco and vapor e-cigarette users need time, training, support and guidance in making this significant lifestyle change. Many schools felt access to a free or a low-cost cessation class for students and employees was critical to campus compliance, and several such classes have been offered at Michigan Tech.
Consistency is critical to success. This includes a consistent message, signage, education and support. Several schools also identified the need for a single point of contact before, during and after the tobacco free, smoke free and vapor free campaign begins. That is why this website has been created.
Task Force Recommendation
The task force recommended a multiyear approach based on the guiding principle of respect for all.
- During year one, focus on communication about upcoming policy changes and cessation classes. Focus on training of supervisors to inform them of resources and how to approach tobacco users and smokers.
- Cessation classes, at minimal to no cost, should be offered.
- While tobacco and e-cigarettes are banned on campus, their use may still be permitted within personal vehicles in university parking lots. The personal vehicle exception should be reevaluated if an increase in littering or general nuisance is observed.
The task force believed that these changes can take place with little direct intervention or enforcement. The compliance approach (vs. enforcement) takes time and education. Following the recommendation of other institutions, the task force recommended that Michigan Tech allow plenty of time, conduct targeted campaigns, and communicate a consistent message.
After the initial educational period passed, the task force said that student noncompliance should be handled as a normal student conduct violation through Student Conduct Services, while employee noncompliance should involve a review of policy and meeting with supervisor.
Other actions should follow established disciplinary procedures. Assessment of the compliance approach was recommended following year two.