NKU Breakfast Forum: Tobacco-free Policies - The Key to Success
A message from President Geoffrey S. Mearns
On January 9, the Northern Kentucky University Board of Regents voted unanimously to direct the adoption of a tobacco-free campus policy and to begin a process to develop recommendations for policy implementation. I want to inform the campus community of the reasons behind this decision and the progress made to date.
There are a number of health, economic and productivity reasons the university is transitioning toward a tobacco-free environment. First, the university is committed to supporting an environment that is clean, healthy and safe for all our students, employees and visitors. Tobacco use remains the single-most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, and research shows that tobacco use in any form, active and/or passive, constitutes a significant health hazard. We have both a responsibility and an opportunity to protect the health of all campus constituents. Second, the economic burden affiliated with tobacco use is significant. The direct and indirect costs, which include such things as health care expenditures and litter maintenance, add up quickly. We are leaders in our community and need to demonstrate fiscal responsibility. Third, the tobacco industry heavily targets college students. Big tobacco spends $41 million per day promoting their products. The tobacco industry relies on young adults initiating the use of tobacco products because this sets in motion the conditions for life-long addiction. We want to prevent NKU students from becoming addicted, which in turn ensures a healthier future workforce for local employers.
For these and other reasons, the American College Health Association has adopted a “no tobacco use” policy, encouraging colleges and universities to be diligent in their efforts to achieve campus-wide tobacco-free environments. NKU, which began restricting campus smoking to designated smoking areas in 2006, joins a list of over 1,130 US colleges and universities with smoke- or tobacco-free policies in place. Among Kentucky’s public institutions, NKU is the third to implement a tobacco-free policy. The University of Kentucky went tobacco-free in November 2009 and Morehead State University did so in June 2011. The University of Louisville is a smoke-free campus.
Becoming a tobacco-free campus doesn’t happen overnight, but I am pleased to report that we have already made progress. I have selected Karen Campbell, director of wellness, Dr. Jeffrey Waple, dean of students, and Dr. Steven Weiss, communication studies, to chair a Tobacco-Free Policy Task Force to develop recommendations for the transition. Their breadth and depth of knowledge of our campus constituencies makes them ideal to lead this initiative. The task force will be comprised of five subcommittees that report to an Advisory Council. I invite you to learn more about the operational framework and charges of the task force and subcommittees on this site. Appointments to these subcommittees will be made shortly, along with recommendations for campus constituents to serve. If you have interest/suggestions, please feel free to contact Karen or Jeff directly.