Putting Out the Smoke

Balmore Ruano | New University

Balmore Ruano | New University

The recently signed federal legislation hopes to reshape policies and programs on campuses

Beginning the transition as the first tobacco-free University of California campus, UCLA will begin enstating their policies against smoking and chewing tobacco on April 22 — Earth Day.

“We felt Earth Day would be the perfect day because we are not only concerned about preventing the number one cause of preventable death, tobacco use, but also the devastating impact on the environment,” Linda Sarna, a professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and the chair of the tobacco-free steering committee, said.

The entire UC system, composed of ten California universities, will begin individually implementing their own policies prohibiting the use, sale or advertisement of tobacco products on all campuses.

The Chancellors at all of the UC campuses have been tasked by the president of the UC system, Mark G. Yudof, to create committees that will help all of the universities be smoke-free by 2014. Implementation of the policy will differ, as each individual campus will create and enforce its own version of this UC-wide regulation.

Taking a strong stance on health practices, UC has already barred smoking from its five medical centers.

Enforcement of the policies will rely primarily on educating smokers about the health risks involved with tobacco consumption and campus resources that are available to help in the process of quitting. The focus for these policies aims at improving the wellness of the campus and its students and faculty.

The UC-wide policy to eliminate tobacco use and smoking on all campuses grew out of discussions that arose at one of the university’s occupational wellness forum held in August 2011, and is part of larger wellness initiatives. The current aim for this policy is both prevention of second-hand smoke as well as prevention of students to develop and engage in the habit of smoking.

According to the American Lung Association, smoke-related conditions and diseases claim over 393,000 lives in America every year. Diseases associated with smoking include lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and oral forms of cancer especially with the use of chewing tobacco.

Currently, UCLA remains the only campus among the Universities of California to have announced their policies. It remains to be seen how the other campuses will begin implementation of these restrictions on tobacco and its usage.