Tobacco campaign kicks off as campus-wide ban approaches

As students clad in green-and-yellow attire enthusiastically passed through the south gate of Autzen Stadium to attend Thursday’s University of California game, ASUO members and University Health Center volunteers distributed special edition lime-green t-shirts that read “Ducks Kick Butt. Kick it on campus 2012” in square, bold print.

However, the slogan was not only intended to promote a sense of school spirit, but also to kick off a health campaign to help students and faculty members kick their smoking habits in anticipation of the campus-wide tobacco ban scheduled to begin next fall.

As a part of the campaign, ASUO president Ben Eckstein said the student government is also closely working with the University Health Center to provide supplemental financial assistance — in addition to a nearly $2 million grant provided by PacificSource — to fund the distribution of tobacco cessation products, such as nicotine gums and patches, to those students and faculty members looking to quit.

“We want to make sure that — starting now — we’re giving people the tools and resources that they need to actually smoke and tobacco free lives,” Eckstein said. “Our hope is that we will continue doing this even after the smoke ban takes place on campus. I think it’s important that we continue to always provide people with the information and resources that they need to be healthy, so as long as there’s students on campus who want information or need help in quitting smoking, I want to make sure that we ready to provide it.”

Although the tobacco-free initiative took nearly eight years of persistent work, the vision of a smoke-free environment was finally actualized when the university declared last November that the campus would be declared a smoke- and tobacco-free zone by fall 2012. Although other schools have pledged to start instituting smoking bans on its campuses, including Oregon State University, the University will become the first school within the Pac-12 to extend the ban to other tobacco products besides cigarettes, including snoose and chew.

“Everyone’s looking at U of O right now, so I feel excited that I was able to bring attention to the University for something besides athletics and be able to do something good,” former ASUO president Amelie [email protected]@ said in an interview in February shortly after the ban was officially announced. “We want the campus to be accessible for everyone.”

Paula Staight@@, the University Health Center’s health promotion director, said a draft of the tobacco ban, which includes possible enforcement methods and clear definitions of the campus boundaries, was finalized and is currently in the process of gaining administrative approval. In addition, Staight said a a specific committee has been created to address the issue of marketing the new tobacco-free policy to various groups of people on campus, including visitors and athletes.

“The issue of enforcement is a very, very difficult one,” Robin Holmes@@, the University’s vice president for student affairs, said. “This is an open campus, and I don’t think the focus is one of enforcement, giving people tickets or getting people in trouble. It’s more about trying to bring about a community and a cultural change about this being a healthy place to work and go to school.”

For those people seeking to kick the habit, Staight explained that the University Health Center first directs students and faculty members to the state-run Oregon Tobacco Quit Line, which will provide tobacco-cessation products based upon a person’s insurance [email protected]…/DURV10I2.pdf@@. Once those products have been used up, Staight said the University Health Center will supplement that by providing people with an additional 12-weeks worth of tobacco-cessation products, including gums and patches.

Although the details have not been finalized, the University Health Center is also actively working with Nike to create a specific campaign during the winter term to target students and faculty members who use tobacco products to alleviate stress.


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