Campus policy bans use of tobacco

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After four years of asking for student input and discussions, UVM officially became tobacco-free Aug. 1.

UVM President Tom Sullivan announced the new policy in a June 30 memo to the UVM community, citing the known health risks associated with chewing and smoking tobacco.

The policy is overarching, it bans all types of tobacco use. All types of smoking, which includes the use of e-cigarettes, any type of pipe, cigar, cigarette and any other smoking equipment are now banned.

Smoking is still allowed on public property. Those who are caught smoking multiple times will be disciplined, according to the policy.

A tobacco-free campus was first recommended by the University Benefits Advisory Council. Four years later, the campus joins the UVM Medical Center, Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace and local public school properties in a smoking ban.

Jan Carney, professor in the College of Medicine, and Tom Gustafson, vice president of University Relations and Administration, are the co-chairs of the UVM Tobacco-Free Steering Committee, a product of Sullivan’s March 2013 proposal for a tobacco free UVM, Carney said.

The steering committee sought input from students and faculty through two surveys, one in 2012 and one in 2014.  The committee also held four public forums in 2014 to discuss the possibility of a tobacco ban.

Carney said the goal of the new policy is to change the culture of the campus so that not smoking tobacco becomes the norm.  This is a process that has been used at schools with similar policies, and it will take time, she said.

“It’s not a matter of handing out tickets or doing things that are punitive,” Carney said.  “It’s a matter of promoting a culture that is positive and promotes health and also a cleaner environment on our campus.”

Carney said it will mostly be an educational approach, but the hope is that it will become peer enforced.

Resident advisors in residence halls are able to remind students of the tobacco-free policy just as they would any other policy, and take further steps if necessary, Carney said.

For UVM students, faculty and staff who want to quit smoking, the UVM tobacco-free initiative website has a list of resources available, Carney said.

“We are very fortunate we are in a state where there are tremendous resources available to help people if they decide they would like to try to quit,” she said.

UVM joins 1,500 other colleges and universities by implementing the policy, according to the June 30 memo.