LAWRENCE — In July 2018 the University of Kansas will complete a process begun five years earlier – going tobacco-free.
More and more universities and communities, both nationally and in the state of Kansas, have chosen to go tobacco-free. KU will complete that transition on July 1, 2018. KU Lawrence and Edwards campus will join colleagues and students at KU Medical Center as well as fellow Kansas Board of Regents institutions — Pittsburg State, Wichita State and Fort Hays State — and more than 1,400 universities nationwide as smoke-free, vape-free and tobacco-free campuses.
“I’m very excited about what this means for our campus community,” said Ola Faucher, director of human resources. “Our focus is to provide a healthier environment for all who study, work, live and visit here and not to punish individuals who use tobacco. It also represents an opportunity for smokers and tobacco users to take advantage of a variety of resources that can help them quit the habit.”
A tobacco-free KU — on all campus property, inside and outside — creates an environment that is more respectful, healthy, clean and green for students, faculty, staff and visitors. Tobacco-free locations include the Kansas Union, the future Burge Union, KU Athletics facilities and KU Center for Research facilities. Managers and supervisors are expected to be supportive of employees working to become tobacco-free. The Tobacco Free policy, approved by the provost on July 1, 2017, includes all forms of tobacco, including chewing tobacco and snuff, and devices designed to simulate cigarette smoking such as e-cigarettes and vaping devices. Smokers will still be able to partake in their personal vehicle parked on university grounds; otherwise, all tobacco use should take place off campus grounds.
Savanna Cox, president of the KU student group Breathe Easy At KU (BEAK), says the student community is in a great position to embrace the tobacco-free policy.
“Recent research shows that 92 percent of KU students reported not having smoked cigarettes, a dramatic improvement from less than a decade ago when 23 percent reported having used cigarettes,” Cox said. “Other data show KU students are decreasing use of other forms of tobacco, too. The time is right to complete the transition first begun at KU Med.”
During the coming months, events and information will be provided by the Tobacco Free KU Steering Committee composed of representatives from the BEAK student organization, Watkins Health Services, Recreation Services, Human Resource Management, and the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. Please visit the Tobacco Free KU website for further information. The site also offers advice to help friends and loved ones to quit tobacco. In addition, students, faculty and staff will be encouraged to take part in a brief survey on both personal tobacco use and observations of tobacco use on campus. A variety of smoking cessation programs and resources are available to students, faculty and staff, including a free 12-week program for employees on the State Employee Health Plan. Questions regarding the policy can be submitted online.