MU moves up smoke-free campus date to July 2013

Thursday, November 15, 2012 | 1:23 p.m. CST; updated 1:57 p.m. CST, Thursday, November 15, 2012

COLUMBIA — When Kristen Fritschie heard MU was making an announcement about its on-campus smoking policy, the first thing she did was make signs.

Fritschie, the guest services coordinator for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, held two oblong signs, one tan with "Be a Quitter" written in blue, the other blue with "Great American Smoker" scrawled in black, during Thursday's announcement at the MU Student Center.

Cathy Scroggs, vice chancellor for MU student affairs, announced MU would be a smoke-free campus by July 1, 2013. The date was moved up six months, from Jan. 1, 2014.

"It means we are making a statement about the health and welfare for everyone on our campus," Scroggs said. "I don't think people will be surprised. It's pretty typical across the country."

As of July 2012, the Staff Advisory Council, the Missouri Students Association, the Residence Halls Association, the Legion of Black Collegians and the Graduate Professional Council had all voted in favor of changing the implementation date. Faculty Council was the last to vote.

The announcement coincides with the Great American Smokeout, an annual day sponsored by the American Cancer Society that encourages smokers to quit.

Fritschie said she was happy with the outcome. 

"This is awesome," Fritschie said. "We see way too many people with lung cancer. They're young and old alike. Things like this help prevent that happening as often."

Abby Lechner, an MU junior nursing student and peer educator for the Wellness Resource Center, said she had some reservations for how students would react.

"Initially there might be students who are upset," she said. "We aren't saying you have to quit, though. It's just a way to have a healthier campus for everyone."

MU has been moving toward a smoke-free campus for years. In December 2008, MU changed the tobacco policy so that smoking was not allowed in or within 20 feet of university buildings or in university owned vehicles. Smoking areas were designated. 

Scroggs said she did not anticipate any issues with enforcing the new policy.

"People have known this was coming," Scroggs said. "We are certainly not the first university to implement a smoke-free campus, but we are certainly not the last." 

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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