Letter to the Editor - WVU should be completely tobacco free
Published: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 8, 2012 07:03
A comprehensive tobacco- free policy is what West Virginia University needs to make the statement that we are committed to the health and livelihood of our students.
Starting Friday, March 9, bars and restaurants in Monongalia County will be smoke-free in compliance with The Clean Indoor Air Regulation. This is an important, positive step for public health, and WVU is now in a position to make a bold statement for the well-being of our students on WVU campuses.
A tobacco-free policy would make WVU a safer, healthier place, particularly for the 82 percent of WVU students who have not used tobacco products in the last 30 days, according to the American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment. Tobacco Free Mountaineers, a WVU student organization focused on creating a tobacco-free campus, urges the University to make our campus safer for smokers and nonsmokers alike.
No one has a right to endanger the health and welfare of others. Smoking bans are no different than laws against drinking and driving – they protect people from the risky behavior of others. For nonsmokers, a tobacco-free policy reduces their exposure to secondhand smoke. For smokers, an environmental limitation such as a tobacco-free policy places a limitation on where they are permitted to smoke and may positively influence their tobacco habit. TFM encourages students to join our call for a tobacco-free WVU.
It is important to note the goal of a tobacco-free policy would be to quit the use of tobacco, not just quit smoking. The primary concern of a tobacco-free policy is the overall health and ethical behavior of the institution, not just the effects of second hand smoke. To merely go smoke-free instead of tobacco-free sends the message, "Students here can use spit tobacco, as long as they don't smoke." Smokeless tobacco is still tobacco and causes various forms of health problems to the user.
Access to cessation resources is an important addition to a tobacco-free policy. Tobacco Free Mountaineers supports West Virginia's QUITLINE (1-800-QUIT-NOW) as a primary cessation resource. Services are offered free to participants aged 18-34 (and other ages based on insurance).
President of Tobacco-Free Mountaineers