By Aaron Moorman, Social Media Editor
Those words might be cause for celebration in the eyes of some students, perhaps reason to object for others. There has been a divide between smokers and non-smokers for a long time, each clamoring that their rights should not be infringed upon. However, one might be surprised to learn that no complaints were received the formal adoption of the “Breathe Free Tri-C” rule. In fact, based on a September 2015 survey answered by over 800 students, the proposed policy change had complete support from approximately 57% of the student body.
It has been about 6 months since Tri-C officially enacted the tobacco-free campus policy on August 8, 2016. For anyone not currently aware, the use of any tobacco product is prohibited on all college grounds, including parking lots. Now, some might ask how the school could potentially respond to violations. The idea, though, is to be positive rather than punitive. The colleges’ goal is to help and encourage tobacco users to kick a bad habit instead of disciplining them for breaking rules. In the rare case where a student was to utterly refuse respectful requests to discontinue tobacco use on school grounds, it would be handled the same as any other Student Code of Conduct violation.
In an interview with the Director of Wellness, Meghan Estes stated that the purpose behind the policy is for more than just health. Undoubtedly, the impact is good for the well-being of both tobacco-users and non-smokers alike, but it goes beyond that. Looking at the long-term picture, Tri-C recognizes that careers can be impacted by tobacco use as well. Health insurance providers will sometimes deny coverage or raise premiums due to tobacco use, and employers often frown upon the ever-demanded ‘smoke-break’. Meghan, a Certified Health Education Specialist, also commented that the policy was “…a very good thing, from an overall health perspective.”
Cuyahoga Community College is not alone in this mission. Over 1,500 higher education institutions across the country, including 330 community colleges, have gone smoke or tobacco-free. For more information about Tri-C’s policy or resources regarding tobacco cessation, visit http://www.tri-c.edu/policies-and-procedures/tobacco-free/index.html. Keep in mind, tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. For those who do continue to smoke off-campus, please be kind to the environment and refrain from littering cigarette butts. It is estimated that there is 1.7 billion pounds of cigarette litter every year worldwide.