Online Program

Tobacco Free Campus Initiative at Benedictine University

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Susan Cheng, PhD, MPH, Master of Public Health Department, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL
Issue: Although state-funded institutions of higher education in Illinois must comply by the Smoke-Free Campus Act starting 08/2014 (SB2202), privately funded institutions are not included. A collaborative of faculty, staff, and students embarked on a tobacco-free campus proposal at a private, Catholic university in Lisle, IL.

Description: In order to initiate a tobacco-free campus initiative at a private university in IL, a multidisciplinary and multi-faceted approach was implemented. A cross-sectional survey was conducted of students, faculty, and staff. The results of the 596 completed surveys concluded that of those surveyed, few were daily smokers (1%), but the majority were exposed to secondhand smoke (84%), and a fifth of those exposed were sensitive or allergic to secondhand smoke. The majority of those who responded supported a tobacco-free campus. The results of this survey was disseminated and presented for discussion to the undergraduate student senate, graduate student advisory panel, and the faculty assembly. Administrators in student services and human resources were also approached.

Lessons Learned: Despite strong support for a tobacco-free campus by several stakeholders (graduate students, several faculty and staff, administrators), there were several topics of contention that were raised. Namely, as a competitive institution, detractors voiced concern about losing faculty, staff, or students who smoke; also, concern was raised regarding appropriate enforcement of such a policy, and the exact nature of any punitive measures. At the current time, this process is ongoing, although a decision by administration is expected in the coming months.

Recommendations: When embarking on a tobacco-free campus initiative, open communication, disclosure, evidence-based research, and collaboration with stakeholders is an important process. Despite individual concerns however, sometimes the public good must come before individual choice. It is hoped that private universities will follow in the steps of publicly-funded institutions in Illinois and adopt a tobacco-free campus policy.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the process, and lessons learned, in developing a Tobacco-Free Campus policy at a privately funded university in Illinois.

Keyword(s): Tobacco Control, Community-Based Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in preventive health research and policy at the local and state level for a number of years. I am also the individual spearheading this tobacco-free initiative, as well as a trained researcher in the field of epidemiology.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.