|UND to become tobacco-free campus Oct. 5|
The University of North Dakota will develop a tobacco-free campus policy to become effective Oct. 5, 2007, President Charles Kupchella announced at a news conference Wednesday, April 4. The policy will cover all portions of campus except for those areas leased by other entities, such as the Hilton Garden Inn, the Ralph Engelstad Arena complex, and other tenants on the Bronson Property.
UND’s Student Senate, University Senate, and Staff Senate have gone on record as supporting the development of a tobacco-free policy.
The details of the policy will be developed by a task group co-chaired by Laurie Betting, assistant vice president for wellness, Jane Croeker, student health services health promotion advisor, and Nate Martindale, immediate past president of Student Government. Members of the task group are drawn from UND’s Healthy UND Committee and from the leadership of University Senate, Student Government, and Staff Senate. Kupchella said the task group would consult with other campus groups as it works to create the policy.
The task group will present the policy details by the end of the third week of the fall semester, said Kupchella. The campus will be invited to comment on the policy before the final version goes into effect on Oct. 5.
"The policy will obviously depend on voluntary compliance and respect for the wishes of the great majority of UND faculty, staff and students to make the campus tobacco-free," said Kupchella. "Wellness and healthful living have – particularly with the construction of the Student Wellness Center – become a UND theme. Our wellness programs are now well recognized both on campus and off. We want the campus to serve as a support system for those wishing to live healthful lives and to model healthful living as an organization. We want a campus climate supportive of healthy choices. We see the implementation of a tobacco-free policy as part of our general charge to prepare our graduates for full, productive lives as professionals and as civic leaders."
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable early death in the United States, claiming more than 440,000 lives each year, and more than 50,000 more deaths are caused by exposure to second-hand smoke, said Kupchella. "The impact in terms of disease and disability is even greater. Smoking-related diseases are a major contributing factor to the rapidly rising health-care costs and health insurance premiums," said Kupchella.
A past president of the American Association for Cancer Education, Kupchella is a former associate director of the University of Louisville Cancer Research Center. He has served as a grant reviewer for the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and other agencies. He is a collaborating partner in the National Dialogue on Cancer (now known as "C-Change").
"We are moving forward because it makes sense to protect the health of those you care about," said Croeker. "We provide comprehensive services for those who want to quit tobacco because we care about the health of our community. A tobacco-free UND will further reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and will support those who are trying to quit."
Betting said UND launched a comprehensive work site wellness program in January, using the results of a survey of UND employees as a starting point. The campus needs and interest survey was conducted "to gain a better understanding of the issues concerning our employees," said Betting. "That information allowed us to identify seven modifiable health risks, one of those being tobacco use. We learned that 84 percent of survey respondents supported a tobacco free campus. And for those that smoke, 64 percent indicated they would like to quit."
As a result, said Betting, UND has partnered with the Grand Forks Public Health Department to offer, at no charge, Freedom from Smoking classes and nicotine replacement therapies for the campus.
"We know that environmental strategies, such as a tobacco free policy, have the greatest ability to produce lasting change," said Betting. "Our ultimate goal is to create a healthy campus community where healthy choices are easy choices."
"UND is recognized as a national leader in health and wellness because we are committed to creating a campus culture that makes it easier for people to make healthy choices, not just with tobacco, but in other areas of our lives as well," said Croeker.