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Mizzou adopts tobacco-free policy to promote health of university community

The new policy prohibits all tobacco product use; tobacco cessation support extended to students, staff and faculty

Aug. 28, 2018

Story Contact(s):
Liz McCune, mccunee@missouri.edu, 573-882-6212

COLUMBIA, Mo. – After more than a year of work and study, University of Missouri officials announced that a new policy will prohibit the use of all tobacco products in an effort to make the campus a healthy and safe place to learn, live and work. The new policy builds on the university’s commitment to go smoke free five years ago by also prohibiting smokeless tobacco products such as chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Following an application in February 2017, MU received a grant from the American Cancer Society’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative last fall that assists with costs associated with developing and implementing the policy. According to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, more than 1,700 campuses already are tobacco free across the nation, including dozens in the state of Missouri.

The new policy was developed by the Tobacco Free Mizzou Committee and approved by university administration on June 21. Student Ambassadors from the Wellness Resource Center will help enforce the policy by notifying violators. In addition, members of the university community are encouraged to inform others about the policy or report concerns at tobaccofree.missouri.edu.

The committee, chaired by Kevin Everett, associate professor of Family and Community Medicine, reviewed tobacco control best practices and model policies. Other committee members included student, faculty and staff representatives.

“Our efforts to monitor, promote, implement and enforce the tobacco-free policy can help reduce the prevalence of tobacco product use and promote a healthy campus culture,” Everett said. “Tobacco use is the single leading cause of preventable death in Missouri, with 11,000 deaths each year attributed to tobacco use.”

Those who violate the policy will be connected with free cessation resources. Organizers expect that the vast majority of violators can be addressed through warnings.

Research shows that simply providing health education does not discourage starting nor encourage quitting as effectively as policy change does.

“We have great resources on campus already for students, staff and faculty to promote a healthy lifestyle,” Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said. “Becoming a tobacco-free campus will help us be a healthier place to work and to learn.”

Seven student representatives were on the committee, including Haydn Sloan Elsey, a junior majoring in biological sciences.

“This policy is necessary to ensure the University of Missouri’s continued effort in improving the student experience and their well-being,” Elsey said. “This policy isn’t for the students now. This is for the students of the future, like my daughter, if she was to come to Mizzou. She deserves a clean and tobacco-free university, and I hope other universities will emulate our actions in this endeavor.”

Free, one-on-one tobacco cessation support and Nicotine Replacement Therapy are available to all students, staff and faculty at the university, and group cessation classes are available to all community members through Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. A full listing of information about the policy and resources for cessation are available at tobaccofree.missouri.edu.

The complete policy is listed in MU’s Business Policy and Procedure Online Manual.

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