MU aims to snuff out smoking on campus by 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2008 | 7:04 p.m. CST; updated 7:19 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 11, 2008

COLUMBIA — MU will prohibit smoking within 20 feet of any entrance, exit, window or air intake system of any building on MU owned or leased property starting Jan. 20, according to an announcement sent out Thursday.

This is the first phase of a new smoking policy that will eventually lead to a smoke-free campus by 2014.  

The process for rewriting the policy began two years ago, when MU’s administration decided to review the current smoking policy, MU spokesman Christian Basi said.

“The committee was constituted because the policy had not been reviewed for quite a few years, the city had recently passed a new ordinance … the time was right for the MU policy to be reviewed,” Peter Ashbrook, a member of MU's smoking policy committee, said.   

This committee, called the smoking policy task force, reported to Vice Chancellor Jacquelyn Jones, made a recommendation based on attitudes toward smoking on campus garnered from a campuswide survey.

Jones also met with groups including MU’s Faculty Council, Staff Advisory Council, the Missouri Students Association and the Graduate Professional Council to discuss options for revised policy.  

“We felt that by gathering the opinions and viewpoints of those groups that gave us a very good idea of what the new policy needed to be,” Basi said. “We received comments from both sides of the issue, as well as a multitude of comments in between.”

Although they consulted with administrators from other universities about policies and implementation strategies, Basi said that MU’s administration was “very much interested” in the questions and concerns of the faculty, staff and students.  

In addition to new restrictions, the policy will provide support for smokers who are looking to quit. MU will work with the Atkins Wellness Program to provide programs to help employees quit smoking, and the MU Wellness Resource Center will do the same for students, Basi said.   

In addition, MU Health Care also will increase coverage of prescription drugs written for those looking to quit smoking MU Health , beginning on Jan. 1.

“We did not expect folks to make an adjustment like this without providing some type of support,” Basi said.

Basi said that MU is relying on voluntary compliance to the policy rather than enforcement, and he expects that everyone will be able to adjust accordingly.

“We have had no incidents with the old smoking policy,” he said.

MU’s new policy is another step taken to limit smoking in Columbia, the last being a citywide restriction on smoking in public places in 2006. The city council voted 4-3 in favor on the ban after six hours of debate at that time.

The next phase of MU’s new policy, which will prohibit smoking on campus except for designated areas, is intended to take effect by July 1, 2011. The final phase, prohibiting smoking campuswide, is targeted for Jan. 1, 2014.

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