KU living tobacco-free to uphold a respectful environment

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What:  The University of Kansas is engaged in an initiative to promote a respectful, healthy, and clean environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors with a tobacco-free KU. The project is being co-sponsored with student representation and the KU departments of Human Resources, Watkins Health Services, and Recreation Services. It is our goal to revise the University’s smoking policy and achieve a tobacco-free KU environment. This initiative has the support of the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost.

Why:  Over 1,000 universities nation-wide have adopted a tobacco-free environment. Out of respect for students, faculty, staff, visitors and the campus environment, the KU Tobacco Free Steering Committee is working toward a tobacco-free university.  Additionally, as is well documented, tobacco use is the leading cause of premature/preventable death, responsible for more than 440,000 deaths a year in the US. These statistics do not include the numerous, serious health problems, financial costs, and lost productivity associated with tobacco use. Tobacco addiction begins almost exclusively among youth and young adults. The 2012 Surgeon General's Report shows that 99% of smokers begin smoking and using other forms of tobacco by age 26, making college and university campuses a critical target for tobacco use prevention and cessation efforts.  Advancing a Tobacco-Free campus is a consolidated effort to protect our youth and young adults against this epidemic. By adopting a successful and sustainable Tobacco-Free policy, the KU campus will make a positive impact on the health of others within the environment they learn, live, and work.

How:  A survey of the student body was conducted in spring, 2013 with a positive response rate indicating interest in a more restrictive smoking policy.

At its meeting on March 12, 2013, SenEx unanimously passed the following resolution:  “SenEx encourages Student Senate in its initiative to develop a more restrictive smoking policy at the University of Kansas.” At its March 29, 2013, meet the University Senate adopted the following resolution: “The University Senate encourages Student Senate in its initiative to develop a more restrictive smoking policy at the University of Kansas.”

The Department of Human Resources conducted a survey of faculty and staff in April, 2013 to ascertain interest in a more restrictive KU smoking policy. With an 18% response rate, 58.95% of the respondents were interested in a more restrictive smoking policy. Of the respondents, 65.71% supported a “smoke-free” campus while 48.59% supported a “tobacco-free” campus. Sufficient interest was demonstrated to pursue a more restrictive campus smoking policy.

The KU Steering Committee began its efforts in the spring of 2013. A formal governance structure is in place during the spring of 2014. The student members of the Steering Committee have worked through the campus organization Breathe Easy at KU (B.E.A.K.) to initiate activities and to garner further student support for the project through a petition to the Student Senate.

The Steering Committee also secured a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation for utilizing a consultant to work with university administration and various university and community sub-groups to develop and implement a Tobacco-Free policy to impact cultural campus change to respect the environment and impact behavior.

When: During the summer of 2017, The University of Kansas committed to be 100% tobacco free effective July 1, 2018.  The updated policy can be found here.

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