St. Thomas announced Thursday it will join the more than 30 tobacco-free college campuses in Minnesota starting Jan. 1, 2014, and university community members gathered in Scooter’s to celebrate what President Julie Sullivan called “an investment in our health.”
“Going tobacco free is an investment in our health and the health of everyone around us,” Sullivan said in a speech at the Thursday afternoon event. “I’m very proud that the University of St. Thomas has made this move.”
Sullivan approved an implementation plan for the ban after reviewing it with university deans and her administrative cabinet earlier this month.
The ban will be put into effect on both the St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses; however, it will not include banning tobacco use in currently occupied faculty and staff residences on the St. Paul campus. After current residents move out, each unit will become tobacco-free. Neither St. Thomas’ Rome campus or the Gainey Conference Center in Owatonna will be affected.
Jolynn Gardner, a health and human performance professor, also spoke at the approximately hour-long event and highlighted the importance of the ban.
“I think sometimes the most important things we can do to protect our health are to put in place those policies and systems that make it a healthier place for everyone,” Gardner said. “I think St. Thomas has done this, and I think it’s consistent with their mission.”
The St. Thomas policy defines “tobacco” as any lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, clove cigarette, hookah-smoked product, electronic cigarette or smokeless tobacco. Items displaying tobacco logos will also be prohibited.
The university will offer smoking cessation programs through Health Services, the Wellness Center and Counseling and Psychological Services. Confidential counseling will also be offered to university employees.
Senior Heath Clayton attended the celebration and said she is happy the tobacco ban was passed.
“I think it’s a huge step forward for St. Thomas and just promoting a healthy campus,” Clayton said. “It’s really going to allow a lot of students to be able to feel like they are living in a safe place, a healthy place that really promotes great choices.”
Freshman Francesca Ippoliti, who is part of Colleges Against Cancer, said she thinks the ban will have a positive impact on incoming students.
“I think that incoming students, a lot of them will probably like that, because I know personally I don’t like walking around campus and smelling smoke or whatever,” Ippoliti said. “It would be best to make (St. Thomas) a safer and cleaner environment for everyone.”
Sophomore Johnny King said he did not know about the ban before arriving at Scooter’s Thursday, but that it will be a positive move for people who aren’t tobacco users.
“It will stop second hand smoke from people who don’t want to deal with it,” King said.