CCU begins move to be tobacco-free by next fall

vgrooms@thesunnews.comDecember 28, 2013 

Coastal Carolina University will launch a new initiative in January to help students and staff quit smoking as CCU transitions to a tobacco-free campus by next fall.

The move was approved earlier this month by the university’s board of trustees and follows a trend at colleges and universities in the state and across the nation.

CCU began research on going tobacco-free about a year-and-a half ago, and the university recently decided it was time to take a serious look at moving forward with it, said Bill Plate, CCU associate vice president for university communication.

“Other universities in the state have done this, and it goes along with our mission statement,” Plate said. “We are committed to producing responsible, healthy citizens.”

Tobacco-free means no more cigarettes or smoke-related products, including cigars and chewing tobacco. Plate said electronic cigarettes – devices that use a nicotine-based liquid and simulate smoking – also will not be allowed at CCU because they may be considered unsafe and are not a healthy alternative.

CCU will create a team to launch a “Live Well at CCU” campaign in January, and the tobacco-free initiative will be part of that, Plate said. The team will create a website listing the available resources students and staff can use to kick their tobacco habits. The university already has nutritionists, personal trainers at its fitness center and smoking-cessation classes, he said, but different departments will be looking into other available resources, including any provided by the state.

At least 1,127 U.S. college and university campuses have gone 100 percent smoke-free since Nov. 20, eliminating smoking in indoor and outdoor areas across their entire campuses, including residences, and 758 of those are 100 percent tobacco-free, according to data from the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.

Twenty campuses in South Carolina are smoke-free, with the majority of those also tobacco-free. In October, the University of South Carolina announced an expansion of its 2006 tobacco-free policy to cover all university property. In the same month, Hartsville’s Coker College said it would become smoke-free Jan. 1 and tobacco-free Aug. 15, and the College of Charleston said it would go tobacco-free July 1. Clemson University also is aiming to go tobacco-free and will have a two-year, phase-in period, Plate said.

CCU students voted in the fall for their officers and answered an exit-poll question on going tobacco-free, which showed just under 70 percent in favor of the move, Plate said.

“I would be surprised if we didn’t have a little bit of pushback,” Plate said, “but we feel we’re going with what the majority would like to see.”

Trustee Larry Biddle said he is sure going tobacco-free will be a topic of discussion on campus, which is why it was a good decision to implement the policy over time.

“It’ll be an interesting journey,” Biddle said. “You can take any topic, put it out there, and seldom do you get 100 percent consensus. Everybody comes at it from their own perspective, but obviously, the trustees feel it’s in the best interest of our students for their health and well-being.”

Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.

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