WMU campus on final countdown to becoming tobacco free

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Photo of staff member and student posting no-smoking signs.

Staff and students have posted signs around campus.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—With just two weeks to go before Western Michigan University becomes a tobacco-free campus, communication efforts are moving into high gear to prepare members of the campus community and visitors for the cultural change the move requires.

By policy adopted by the WMU Board of Trustees in December, the campus will become a tobacco-free entity Sept. 1, making the Sept. 2 start of the fall semester the major rollout date. The policy applies to all WMU-held property in Kalamazoo and around the state and extends to anyone working or studying on campus as well as all visitors.

New signage publicizes tobacco-free policy

In preparation for the new status, two campus forums were held in late July, new signage for buildings and campus entry points is being produced and deployed, outdoor ashtrays are being removed and a last-minute round of campus and community messages is reminding those most likely to be affected of the change.

About 60 people attended recent campus forums to pose questions about implementation of the policy--with most questions focusing on how the policy will be enforced and whether newer electronic products are included in the campuswide ban. Among important points shared during the forums:

  • Electronic cigarettes and water vapor products used with or without nicotine cartridges are included in the list of products that may not be used on campus. Such products are not FDA-approved tobacco cessation devices.
  • The use of other FDA-approved cessation products, such as nicotine patches, remains permissible.
  • Medical marijuana is included in the list of prohibited products.
  • WMU regional locations also will be tobacco free as of Sept. 1.
  • Campus maps are being developed and will be posted online to illustrate the boundaries of the tobacco-free status.
  • Cessation assistance for members of the campus community is outlined at wmich.edu/healthcenter/clinic/tobacco-free.
  • Insurance policy changes triggered by the Affordable Care Act mean more cessation assistance may be available, so policyholders should check with their providers to understand those changes.
  • Tool kits have been developed for use by students, employees and supervisors to help with social enforcement of the policy and changing the culture of the campus. The tool kits can be found online at wmich.edu/tobaccofree.

The Sept. 1 change to tobacoo-free status will put WMU among about a quarter of American colleges and universities, including 25 in Michigan, that are smoke free or tobacco free. The policy applies to all students, faculty and staff as well as visitors and contractors working on campus. The only exception to the campuswide mandate is that smoking is allowed in enclosed personal vehicles.

The tobacco-free initiative was adopted to help fulfill one of the goals in the University's strategic plan—ensuring a diverse, inclusive and healthy community.