EMU transitions to a tobacco-free campus

Eastern Michigan University recently adopted a tobacco-free campus policy. The Board of Regents voted to pass this policy Friday afternoon at its winter regular meeting.

The tobacco-free policy is a move toward supporting a healthier learning, living and work environment for the EMU campus, according to a statement from the university.

The policy will take effect July 1, 2015, and prohibits all smoking and the use of tobacco products in or on all university-owned, operated or leased property. This includes buildings, facilities and vehicles parked in or around those areas.

The policy will also include sidewalks that cut through the campus or between buildings and includes the sidewalks around the perimeter of campus.

“I think it is a really positive change that all colleges should be moving toward,” Jillian Brown, a sophomore sociology major said.

In Michigan, 27 colleges and universities are considered smoke or tobacco-free. Washtenaw Community College has been tobacco-free since 2005. Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University have recently adopted a tobacco-free policy as well.

“I think the university will get negative feedback, because a lot of people smoke on campus,” Caitlin Watson, a freshman pre-veterinary major said. “But I think it is a great idea because the tobacco is hurting our environment.”

A committee of students, faculty and staff has met regularly over the course of several months to evaluate tobacco use on campus and develop recommendations, including an implementation plan for a tobacco-free campus.

Desmond Miller, EMU Student Government President, served on the committee.

“A key element of this policy is respect for both users and non-users of tobacco,” Miller said. “We hope this policy will benefit both groups as we transition to a healthier, tobacco-free environment at Eastern Michigan University.”

Beginning January 2015, the university will begin marketing the upcoming change to the campus by offering educational programs about being tobacco-free, educating students about tobacco as a part of transitioning the students into the new policy.

“This policy is, above all, intended to encourage students, employees and visitors to improve their health by eliminating their use of tobacco products,” President Susan Martin said in the statement.

The first year of the new policy will be formed around voluntary compliance. The first year will continue the transition into going tobacco-free completely.

“All EMU students, faculty, staff and visitors will share in the responsibility for adhering to and complying with the policy,” Ellen Gold, EMU assistant vice president for student well-being said in a statement. “With the cooperation, thoughtfulness and consideration of both users and non-users, this policy will be successful, and in turn, everyone who comes to the campus can experience the benefits.”

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