Campus to become tobacco-free, not just smoke-free

On November 30, 2009, the Rensselaer campus community was informed of the Institute’s intentions to become a smoke-free campus, effective July 1, 2010. As we continue with this initiative, the Institute has expanded it to be a tobacco-free campus.

We believe that expanding from a smoke-free to a tobacco-free campus will allow the Institute to provide public health policy leadership while supporting a culture that reflects a genuine respect for all members of the campus community, visitors, environment, and institutional sustainability efforts. In addition, this initiative supports the spirit of campus-wide health and wellness.

Why change from a smoke-free to a tobacco-free campus? The evidence and trends regarding the health hazards of smoking and tobacco indicate that dangers extend beyond smoking cigarettes to include products such as chewing tobacco, smokeless tobacco, and electronic cigarettes, according to information published by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In our efforts to become a tobacco-free institution, Rensselaer will join more than 360 U.S. colleges and universities that have pursued similar initiatives. By participating, we hope to set an example that will encourage the Rensselaer community to embrace a spirit of healthy living, learning, and working.

It will be important for all members of the Rensselaer community to support one another during this change. In the spirit of providing resources for support and information, the Divisions of Human Resources and Student Life will be offering the following activities:

• Rensselaer will be convening focus group meetings with various members of the campus community to hear and discuss their input regarding implementation of the Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative.

• We are also in the process of scheduling on-site smoking cessation classes for faculty, staff, and students. We will make a formal announcement with more details in the next few weeks.

Additionally, we encourage all faculty, staff, and students to contact their primary care physician to receive counseling and smoking cessation prescription benefits. Faculty and staff who receive their health plan coverage from the Capital District Physicians Health Plan are eligible to receive an additional 20 percent discount at CVS drug stores on CVS brand over-the-counter smoking cessation products, such as the nicotine patch and gum.

In an effort to garner student participation, the Tobacco-Free Campus implementation team—which consists of staff from the Office of the Provost, the Division of Human Resources, and the Division of Student Life—is starting a contest for Rensselaer students to design a logo to promote the initiative. Entries must be submitted to Jennifer Wicks at wicksj@rpi.edu. The deadline for submission is March 12 and the winning entries will be announced on March 19. The winners will receive gift certificates for the Rensselaer computer store or bookstore for the following amounts: first prize—$500; second prize—$250; third prize—$100.

Additional messages from the Office of the Provost, the Division of Human Resources, and the Division of Student Life will be released soon.