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College of Public Health Leads Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative

Temple University’s College of Public Health has been awarded a grant by the American Cancer Society as part of the university’s inclusion in the society’s Tobacco-Free Campus Generation Initiative—an initiative that provides grants to accelerate and expand the adoption and implementation of smoke- and tobacco-free policies on college and university campuses. Temple is now one of 64 universities nationwide working toward the goal of a 100% tobacco-free campus.

“Creating a smoke-free campus environment is important for several reasons,” said Jenn Ibrahim, the recipient of the grant, who is associate dean for academic affairs and associate professor of health administration and policy at the College of Public Health. “First, we know that 18- to 24-year-olds have the highest rates of smoking and if someone is going to become a smoker, this is the time when he or she becomes addicted. So we are trying to prevent this from happening. Second, tobacco-related litter is all over campus. There is an environmental impact as chemicals leach into the soil, and a cost associated with cleaning it up.”

Starting this fall, an interdisciplinary group of faculty, students and staff from across Temple University will work towards creating a smoke-free campus. Led by Laura Siminoff, dean of the College of Public Health and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Public Health, the Smoke-Free Campus Task Force will start by surveying students, faculty and staff.

An urban university like Temple poses challenges that others don’t. Since the main campus lies on public streets in the middle of a city, it’s difficult to place restrictions in public areas. But the area also offers resources that Temple can use to craft a policy that works.

Thomas Jefferson University, for instance, already has a smoke-free policy. The task force plans to communicate with officials there about how they implemented their policy. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has also offered their support and resources.

The task force at Temple is taking a “bottom-up” approach to defining and enforcing a smoke-free campus policy. That could mean a literal “smoke”-free policy affecting just cigarettes and other combustibles, or a ban that includes chewable and other forms of tobacco as well.

“It is important that the Temple community participates in the policy’s development, as they will be a critical part of the policy’s success,” said Ibrahim.

From there, the group will use that information to craft Temple’s smoke-free policy. Ibrahim says she hopes that policy can be implemented by fall of 2018.

Posted:  September 1, 2017