Just three months before the campus joins more than 750 other colleges and universities that have become tobacco-free, a public awareness campaign is being launched to inform students, employees and visitors about the new policy.
At the heart of the “Let’s Clear the Air” appeal is a new website, which is being augmented by banners, ads on buses and campus delivery trucks and other highly visible venues—all aimed at reminding readers about the impending July 1 implementation date.
Starting in February, members of the Tobacco-Free Policy Implementation Committee began a series of open meetings to brief community members about the initiative and answer questions.
In addition, Associate Chancellor Susan Pearson, who chairs the committee, sent a broadcast e-mail on Feb. 12 informing the campus that the policy applies to students, staff, faculty, contractors and visitors and covers all buildings and grounds as well as vehicles. All tobacco products and electronic cigarettes will be prohibited.
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.
“Recognizing that tobacco use compromises the health and well-being of the entire campus community, the campus administration adopted this policy and appointed an implementation committee, whose charge includes developing programs to help educate the campus community about the dangers of tobacco use and resources to support students and employees in their efforts to adapt to the new policy,” said Pearson.
According to Pearson, the goal is “to achieve voluntary compliance with this policy, and we anticipate that this effort will be successful.”
As part of the effort, the campus has developed new resources to assist students and employees who are considering or planning to quit the use of tobacco products or who wish to get through the workday without nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
The campus has five trained tobacco treatment specialists who 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.
The campus is also offering vouchers to help offset the cost of over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. Vouchers are good for $10 off the price of a two-week supply of these products at UHS Pharmacy and the discount can be applied up to six times.
In addition, the Center for Health Promotion and Workplace Learning and Development have been offering workshops to help employees cope with the tobacco-free policy, while the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program is leading a support group for employees.
Other campuses in Massachusetts that have adopted tobacco-free policies include the UMass Medical School, Bridgewater and Salem state universities, Bristol Community College and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.