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CMU seeks input from students, faculty about smoking policy via online survey

Central Michigan University officials are looking for student input in regards to the on-campus smoking policy through a survey sent Monday afternoon to the campus community.

In September 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the national Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative, causing CMU to take a look at its current policy, Associate Vice President of Human Resources Lori Hella said.

“CMU has had a smoke-free policy since 1992, and it was most recently reviewed in 2008,” she said.

Currently at CMU, smoking is prohibited in all buildings containing classrooms, study areas, offices and other indoor work areas, in addition to all areas where food products are prepared, sold and consumed, all university vehicles and all housing areas.

Now, a Smoke-Free Policy review workgroup has been formed, consisting of 18 faculty, staff and student representatives from various campus stakeholder groups.

The workgroup will review the current smoke-free workplace policy and submit recommendations to University President George Ross and the cabinet.

With the survey distributed via email to students, faculty and staff, Hella said the workgroup is hoping to get a significant response to see how policies at CMU might change in the future.

“We’re hoping to use the information to inform us as we review various options and recommendations that might be made,” Hella said.

According to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, the number of U.S. colleges and universities with 100-percent smoke-free and tobacco-free campus policies has increased dramatically from 110 in April 2008 to 825 in October 2012.

Currently, 17 percent of all universities and colleges are 100-percent smoke-free or tobacco-free, including at least 22 institutions in Michigan, such as the University of Michigan, Oakland Community College, Lansing Community College and Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City.

According to the TFCCI, tobacco is the leading cause of premature and preventable death throughout the world.

The 2012 Surgeon General’s Report showed 99 percent of smokers begin smoking and using tobacco by the age of 26.

Central Michigan Health Park Physician Alex Corcoran said the United States Preventative Service Task Force ruled smoking tobacco as the single-worse behavior that contributes to overall morbidity and mortality.

“Side effects of smoking that are commonly seen include elevated blood pressure, chronic cough, shortness of breath, yellowing of the teeth and nails and even increased skin wrinkling,” he said. “It increases your risk for heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancer.”

In an effort to reduce deaths and human health costs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the TFCCI to promote and support the adoption and implementation of tobacco-free policies.

Despite the popularity of the policy, some students feel there isn’t a need to change the current rules.

Macomb senior Natalie Nako said she doesn’t see an issue with the current smoking policies.

“I think it should stay the way it is. I really don’t think it’s a big problem anymore, at least from what I see,” she said. “I really don’t notice people smoking around campus.”

Rochester senior Jeff Hickey said strengthening the smoking policy would create healthier campus environment.

However, although a good idea, Hickey said he doesn’t see students abiding by the rules and isn’t sure CMU would be able to enforce the policy.

“I feel like, either way, people are going to smoke on campus. There’s not much you can do unless they have people patrolling,” he said. “There’s no sense enforcing rules people won’t actually abide by.”

Enforcing the policy is an issue Hella said has been addressed differently at each institution, depending on the culture and what fits. Policies range from trusting students and faculty to abide by the rules to police handing out tickets to violators.

The smoke-free policy survey will be open until Feb. 22.

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