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Tobacco-Free UC One Year Later!

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May 2018 marks one year of UC being tobacco-free!

The University of Cincinnati tobacco-free policy was implemented across all university campuses on May 1, 2017, so we wanted to see how we are doing one year later. Has the policy helped clear the air? Has it actually helped anyone quit tobacco use completely? We talked to a few members of our UC Blue Ash community to see what impact the policy has had on them personally.

Professor Todd Callais credits the tobacco-free policy with helping him quit smoking.

You may already know Todd Callais, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology here at UCBA. After being a tobacco user “on and off” for the past twenty years, the tobacco-free policy at UC Blue Ash was the final push he needed to quit smoking for good.

Todd was briefly a member of the planning committee for the policy while he was still a tobacco user.  I wanted to know if his involvement with the committee was his direct incentive to quit, or if he had other personal motivations. He says it was pretty much 50/50. “I’m starting to get older, I’ve been smoking for a while. I had started to reach the point where health issues had started to become more realistic in my mind. Having [the policy] is good motivation because I don’t want to be this faculty member that’s going out and openly breaking the rules in front of everyone.”

Todd quit smoking “cold turkey” and he says that the hardest times were driving to and from school and the short breaks between classes. His coping techniques included not restricting his coffee intake throughout the quitting process and chewing on toothpicks. He says the nicotine was out of his system within a month. Todd also recommends an app called “My Last Cigarette”, which tells you exactly how long it’s been since your last cigarette, along with details on savings, health development and daily motivations.

“It’s easy to every once in a while say ‘Oh I’ll just smoke one cigarette’, but if you realize you’re risking a streak it makes it harder to break.”

Todd admits that the policy at UC Blue Ash worked better than he initially thought it would.

“I think the major effect of something like this isn’t necessarily some rule of law… but it’s about changing the way smoking on campus is viewed. So now that we’ve created a stigma about smoking in the open I think it creates an environment where there’s not as much pressure to do so.”

UCBA head of campus security, Chad Goodpaster notes that he saw an immediate change on campus once the policy was enacted and was enforced by doorways.

Most students agree that they have seen a difference in the air quality on campus, especially around entrances.

Pre Middle School Education major Serah Duvall notes, “I have asthma and people smoking right outside makes it hard to breathe. There’s definitely a difference between then and now.”

Others have noticed people still finding places to smoke on campus, some say they see people smoking in their cars in the parking lot, but not nearly as often as in the past.

Portrait of UCBA Professor Heather Vilvens

Kudos to Professor Heather Vilvens for leading implementation of the UC Tobacco-free policy at UCBA!

The implementation of the policy would not have been as effective without the hard work and leadership of Assistant Professor of Allied Health and Director of Pre-Health Education, Heather Vilvens who led the Tobacco-Free planning committee.

“People are complying for the most part… there might be a person here or there, but I feel like [the tobacco free policy] is working. It has definitely been a positive change for the campus.” -Heather Vilvens.

Heather reminds us that there are still FREE cessation packages available for students, faculty or staff who are interested in quitting tobacco use. You can contact Heather for information on cessation and free and confidential nicotine replacement therapy.

Overall, students, faculty and staff alike have seen a positive change in our campus since the tobacco-free policy was implemented. Tobacco use on campus has not been completely eliminated, but we are proud to say we are now offering a cleaner, healthier environment for all!

For more information on the UC is Tobacco-Free policy, to report a “hot spot” (a specific spot on campus where there is frequent smoking), or for help quitting tobacco use, contact tobaccofree@uc.edu

About Olive Wright

Olive Wright is the Communications Intern with the Communications Department at UC Blue Ash College for the 2017-18 academic year. Look forward to seeing Olive's contributions to UCBANOW and www.ucblueash.edu all year long.