June 7, 2013

Clearing the Air

As of July 1, tobacco products are banned throughout UMass Amherst

Students, staff, faculty, contractors, and visitors at UMass Amherst who smoke or chew tobacco now face a challenge: the campus has joined more than 750 other colleges and universities in resolving to become entirely tobacco-free.

Under guidelines effective July 1, all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, are prohibited. The policy applies to all buildings and vehicles owned or leased by UMass Amherst, regardless of location; all grounds and outdoor areas controlled by the university, including parking lots, parking ramps, athletic fields, tennis courts, and recreational areas; and the interiors of all vehicles on university grounds. Anyone using tobacco products while driving to campus must dispose of them before reaching the campus perimeter.

The program is being introduced by way of a public awareness campaign, “Let’s Clear the Air.” It includes a website (www.umass.edu/tobaccofree), banners, ads on buses and campus delivery trucks, and notices in other highly visible venues.

Originally proposed by the Faculty Senate’s Health Council, the tobacco-free policy was approved by the Faculty Senate and the Campus Leadership Council in 2011. It is hoped that compliance will be voluntary, and to help encourage cooperation the campus has developed resources to assist students and employees who want to quit using tobacco products or want to get through the workday without nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Five trained tobacco treatment specialists are available by appointment, and students can obtain prescriptions for tobacco-cessation medications through the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health or University Health Services. Vouchers are available to help offset the cost of over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy products. In addition, Workplace Learning and Development and the Center for Health Promotion are offering workshops to help employees cope with the policy, and the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program is running an employee support group.