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Task Force Recommends Implementing University-Wide Tobacco-Free Policy

Penn State’s Smoke Free/Tobacco Free task force has officially concluded its analysis of the university and recommends making Penn State a tobacco-free university. Over the next few weeks, President Barron will review the report and hear feedback. He’ll announce a final decision later this semester — Penn State would be the 11th Big Ten school to implement tobacco-free policies.

The university has been looking into smoking on campus since 1982 when the first smoking policy was created. UPUA has been working to survey students on smoke-free or tobacco-free policies for the past few years; the task force now presenting recommendations was created in January 2017.

“The work of the task force is an example of the university’s commitment to advancing its plan to promote quality of life and inspire healthy behaviors and improvements in overall wellness for all of our community members and for those visiting our campuses,” said task force co-chair Linda LaSalle, who’s the director of Health Promotion and Wellness in University Health Services. “If the recommendations are approved, Penn State will join more than 1,500 college campuses across the country with tobacco-free policies.”

The task force’s recommendations report outlines seven key recommendations, including:

  1. Smoking and tobacco should be prohibited on all campuses and at all university properties or facilities. The task force also recommends a ban on advertisement, distribution, and sampling of tobacco products or tobacco merchandise.
  2. Create an Office for a Smoke-Free/Tobacco-Free Penn State, which will be responsible for the implementation, coordination, and assessment of the outcomes of this initiative.
  3. Timeline: Communicate the initiative in fall 2017, soft launch the policy in January 2018, and enforce the policy fully in fall 2018.
  4. Support any faculty, staff, and students who are trying to stop using tobacco or nicotine products with free smoking and tobacco cessation programs.
  5. Enforce the policy primarily through peer support and encouragement, only using supervisory oversight when necessary.
  6. Communicate across the Penn State community to build understanding and adherence.
  7. Work collaboratively with communities surrounding each campus to keep everyone informed of the initiative and to improve health.

“Firstly, I want to thank the task force for their dedication, time and careful attention to this important issue as well as all those who provided their valuable insights and counsel to help shape the findings in this report,” President Barron said in a press release. “The health consequences of tobacco-related products can be profound, and we take the well-being of our Penn State community seriously. We have the opportunity to make a fundamental shift in what it means to enhance health, and this is an opportunity to impact the Penn State community, today and in the future.”

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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