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Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative

Posted by Waite, Matthew D - May 1, 2012 - On Campus

As a graduate assistant working within the UW-Stevens Point Employee Wellness program, I have had a great amount of collaboration with many different campus departments and professionals. One of my biggest responsibilities right now is participating in discussion with a committee filled with passionate staff and faculty. We all have the same goal: To one day make UWSP a tobacco-free campus. We have shared our ideals and goals with members of SGA, the Chancellor’s cabinet and University Affairs. It has been a great responsibility and learning experience. However, we need everyone’s help to create a cleaner environment for our health.

UWSP Employee Wellness and the Environmental Safety Committee are working hard to make UW-Stevens Point a tobacco-free campus. With help from the American Lung Association’s SPARK campaign, a committee of university staff, professors, and students is aiming to educate and raise awareness about UWSP adopting a tobacco-free campus policy.

On September 1, 2010, the University of Wisconsin-Stout became completely tobacco free and it continues to be the only four-year public school in Wisconsin to have a tobacco-free campus. “Tobacco free” is an environment in which there is no use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, other tobacco products, or smokeless tobacco. This came as a result of two student referendums held by the Stout Student Association, an overwhelming amount of support from Stout’s student body, and the approval of Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen.

So what does this have to do with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point? Well, quite a bit actually. Although tobacco products have been proven to be carcinogenic and harmful to the health of those who abuse them, UWSP does not presently prohibit their use on campus. This is paradoxical on many levels:

· The National Wellness Institute was founded at UWSP, making UWSP a model for healthy behavior.
· UWSP culture should strive to support healthy choices and discourage actions that are detrimental to the health, safety, and campus environment.
· UWSP students, faculty, staff, and visitors should be able to participate in campus activities without being exposed to tobacco smoke–this projects an unhealthy and undesirable image for UWSP.
· Campus survey findings indicate that the vast majority (or 89%) of UWSP students abstain from tobacco products.

To promote a safe and healthy UWSP campus environment, individuals can do their part to support and encourage the ban of all tobacco use on campus. Groups such as SPARK and the Tobacco-Free Implementation Committee meet regularly to promote a tobacco-free campus environment.

If you are interested in advocating for this cause please contact Employee Wellness (empwell@uwsp.edu) to learn more about ways to help get the word out.

Matt

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