Tuesday, August 31, 2010

UW-Stout Becomes First Four-Year School Within UW System to Go Tobacco-Free

UW-Stout students, faculty, staff and visitors will no longer be permitted to use any tobacco products on campus grounds as of Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010. The new ordinance, voted on by a handful of student members of the UW-Stout Student Association, will prohibit tobacco-use both indoors and outdoors, including sidewalks and parking lots. Doug Mell, the executive director of communications at the University said it didn’t make sense to pass the new rule and exempt certain areas.

“Looking around the country and talking to other universities that have done this, we found one of the ways that it is most effective is if you don’t start carving out exemptions and exclusions,” said Mell. “Either we were going to do it or we weren’t. We didn’t exempt anything.”

All tobacco receptacles have been removed from the campus and anyone seen using tobacco on campus will be given a piece of paper, reminding them the campus is now tobacco-free and providing the individual with contacts for cessation programs.

According to Mell, the new ordinance is not about telling anyone they can’t smoke or use these products, but it's about educating those at the university on what's best for them and their health.

“There’s an increasing amount of evidence showing a significant amount of students who leave campus as smokers were not smoking ahead of time,” he said. “Anything we can do to show smoking is harmful to their health and will kill, anything we can do is worth the effort. Making UW-Stout tobacco-free sends a very important message about what we believe is best for our students, faculty and staff.”

Mell believes there will not be too much opposition because of the overwhelming support for the implementation of a Smoke-Free Air ordinance on campus last year.

He said many students believe as he and his colleagues at the university do, “If society is going that way, which we believe it is, what do you get by waiting?” he asked. “What do you gain by waiting for five years if you’re going to do it in five years anyway.”

SmokeFree Wisconsin congratulates the students at UW-Stout for taking such a positive position on tobacco-use and protecting the health of their fellow students and staff members. We also congratulate those higher up at the university who signed off on this important decision. Way to go UW-Stout. We hope others will follow!

To see local media coverage on new campus ordinance click here!

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