University of St. Thomas Going Tobacco Free in 2014

Updated: 11/21/2013 12:58 PM
Created: 11/21/2013 12:04 PM
By: Megan Stewart

The University of St. Thomas will be tobacco free beginning Jan. 1.

St. Thomas made the announcement on the date of the Great American Smokeout, which the American Cancer Society sponsors on the third Thursday of every November to encourage people to quit smoking.

The University defines tobacco as any lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, clove cigarette, hookah smoked products, electronic cigarettes and any other smoking product, as well as smokeless or spit tobacco, also known as chew or snus.

Promotion, sale and distribution of tobacco products and merchandise, including any items carrying tobacco logos, also will be prohibited on the campuses or at any university-sponsored events.

President Julie Sullivan approved the plan, which includes smoking cessation programs offered by the university, after reviewing it with her cabinet of administrators and deans earlier this month.

The University of Minnesota also is moving ahead with plans for a tobacco-free campus, effective July 1, 2014. The changes will affect campuses in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester and Crookston, but not Morris.

Minnesota private colleges with tobacco bans include Bethel, Northwestern, St. Catherine and St. Scholastica; most of the others don’t allow tobacco or smoking inside buildings and have restrictions on outdoor smoking. Other public institutions with bans include state universities in Bemidji, Mankato, Marshall, Moorhead, St. Cloud and Winona.

In the fall semester of 2010, Mike Orth ’13, then president of the sophomore class and president of the Undergraduate Student Government last year, approached St. Thomas administrators about ways to reduce tobacco use on campus.

“A tobacco-free campus means two things,” Orth said last May. “First, that our university offers a safe and healthy place for students, faculty and staff to work, attend class and live. Second, that St. Thomas encourages the entire community to make healthy choices. That has an especially profound impact on students who are developing habits for the rest of their lives.”

Orth formed a USG Tobacco Policy Review Committee during the 2010-11 academic year. The committee conducted two student surveys and other research about tobacco use on campus.

The findings showed supporters objected to inhaling secondhand smoke and believed limits or a ban would promote healthy practices for people to follow for the rest of their lives. Opponents said a ban would infringe on their personal freedoms and create safety concerns and littering problems by forcing people to smoke on public property, such as sidewalks, streets and the Summit Avenue median.

The Colleges Against Cancer student club, the Undergraduate Student Government and STAR are sponsoring a celebration from noon to 1 p.m. today in Scooter’s.

For more information about the policy at the University of St. Thomas, click here.

Photo: MGN Online

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