Visitors to Westminster College in Fulton, MO will be greeted by new Westminster blue signs when they enter campus, informing them that the College is now "100% Smoke Free Inside & Out" and thanking them for their cooperation.
The new policy went into effect July 1.
"This policy fits into our mission and values by creating a safe, healthy and clean environment for everyone," says Forsythe. "At Westminster, we pride ourselves on being a close, caring, cooperative community. I ask that all of us in the Westminster community support each other in maintaining a smoke-free environment on campus for the benefit of all members and visitors."
Smoking is prohibited both indoors and at all outdoor places on campus. Campus is defined as "all owned facilities, athletic venues and college owned residential units." It includes the campus areas from Jefferson Street to Hackberry (east of Hickman) and West 8th Street to West 4th Street and inside all college-owned vehicles.
Fraternity houses will remain smoke-free indoors. Houses that opt to allow smoking outside on their property will be confined to one designated outdoor smoking area that is located away from main entrances, walkways and windows and has an appropriate cigarette disposal container.
Faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors who wish to smoke are restricted to inside their personal vehicles or outside of campus property.
Enforcement of the new policy is the shared responsibility of the entire campus community. Any member of the College community may take the initiative to inform individuals of the policy and politely ask for their compliance. Established disciplinary procedures through the Dean of Student Life or Human Resources will be applied to individuals who repeatedly violate this policy.
"We hope the entire campus, both smokers and nonsmokers, will respect this policy and assist with making it work," says Stevens. "This new policy will make our campus a healthier, cleaner place for our campus community and visitors to enjoy."
In order to support the policy, the College has made smoking cessation programs available to students, faculty and staff.
"Smoking not only affects the smoker, but secondhand smoke is harmful to others," says Amanda Stevens, Health Educator from the Westminster College Wellness Center. "Having a completely smoke-free campus is easier to enforce and we will have less cigarette butts on campus. It might also help those who currently smoke by making it easier for them to cut back or quit. As a health educator on campus, I will be working hard to get the message across about campus cessation resources and help educate the campus community about our new policy."
Westminster has made incremental steps toward a smoke-free campus since 2006. The effort began with an open forum, assessment group meetings and a collection of campus-wide data on the issue. Research demonstrated significant support from all campus groups-students, faculty and staff-for a smoke-free campus.
Designated smoking areas were established on campus. Information was distributed and posted on the health risks of smoking and steps smokers could take to stop. A free tobacco cessation program was offered to all students, staff and faculty through Counseling and Health Services.
Westminster is following a national trend that has prompted 390 other colleges and universities to adopt a 100 percent smoke-free campus policy.
The American College Health Association issued a "no tobacco policy" position in September 2009, encouraging colleges and universities nationwide "to be diligent in their efforts to achieve a 100% indoor and outdoor, campus-wide, tobacco-free environment."
According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, there are smoke-free colleges and universities in virtually every state. Arkansas and Iowa have instituted statewide bans at all public colleges and universities. Other examples include the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, Oklahoma State University and Purdue University. In Missouri, Northwest Missouri State University and Washington University in St. Louis are already smoke-free.
The U.S. Surgeon General has determined that secondhand smoke exposure has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and can cause heart disease and lung cancer. The study also finds that simple separation of smokers and nonsmokers within the same air space may reduce, but does not eliminate the exposure of nonsmokers to environmental tobacco smoke.
Numerous other studies for The National Cancer Institute, World Health Organization, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection have found that secondhand smoke is a toxic air contaminant, there are no safe levels of exposure and that implementing smoke-free environments are the only effective way to protect from harmful exposure to secondhand smoke.
"A smoke-free campus promotes a healthier environment for everyone," says Stevens. "Westminster College cares about its community and this policy fits with the overall values of the College."
For more information about the program, click here.