UC Berkeley to implement tobacco-free policy

Students are currently allowed to smoke on permissible campus areas. However, due to a universitywide ban on tobacco products, UC Berkeley established a committee to oversee the move toward a tobacco-free campus by 2014.
Leya Andrews/Staff
Students are currently allowed to smoke on permissible campus areas. However, due to a universitywide ban on tobacco products, UC Berkeley established a committee to oversee the move toward a tobacco-free campus by 2014.

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Pursuant to a universitywide ban on tobacco products, UC Berkeley has established a committee to oversee the move toward becoming tobacco-free by 2014.

To lead the tobacco-free initiative, the campus has created the Tobacco-Free Berkeley Steering Committee to design and implement transitional policies. The committee is composed of representatives from several campus groups, including the ASUC Senate, University Health Services and the City of Berkeley Public Health Division.

“Smokers who are trying to quit have a much higher relapse rate if they are exposed to tobacco smoke,” said Joel Moskowitz, director for the Center for Family and Community Health and co-chair of the committee. “By moving smoking off campus, smokers are more likely to try and quit and be more successful in quitting.”

According to Steve Maranzana, assistant manager of the Health and Safety Team at the Office of Environment, Health & Safety and project manager for the initiative, the committee’s focus will be on education, but the committee is currently planning on leveraging existing processes, such as the Student Code of Conduct and administrative supervisory actions, to enforce the ban.

“All members of the university community will share the responsibility of adhering to and enforcing the policy and will have the responsibility for bringing it to the attention of visitors and guests,” Maranzana said.

University Health Services will provide several smoking cessation programs and resources, including a one-on-one cessation assistance to develop a quit plan, free quit kits and a free nicotine replacement therapy starter pack.

Smoking is currently not allowed inside of or within 25 feet of campus buildings. However, smoking, the use of smokeless tobacco products and the use of unregulated nicotine products will be completely banned from all outdoor spaces at any UC campus in 2014 following a mandate issued by UC President Mark Yudof last year.

According to Trish Ratto, manager of the Health Matters wellness program for faculty and staff, the prevalence of smoking is prevalent among 3 to 9 percent of UC Berkeley employees and 6 to 10 percent of students.

Jeremy Palmer, a UC Berkeley senior who frequently smokes on campus as a way to relieve stress, said the university should instead should offer the alternative of designated smoking areas.

“It puts smokers at a disadvantage,” Palmer said. “I have a right to smoke, and they are trying to criminalize what is not criminal.”

To Amanda Fallin, a postdoctorate researcher at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, policies like these at colleges are vital to the prevention of developing smoking habits.

“It is important to implement policies like these because almost all adult daily smokers start before the age of 26,” Fallin said. “Policies like these can help or stop young adults from starting to smoke or stop smoking.”

Andrea Guzman covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected] and on Twitter @guzmanandrea5.

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