Edmonds CC becomes tobacco, smoke-free campus

Impact unclear on international student recruitment
By Brian Soergel | Sep 13, 2017

Edmonds Community College is a tobacco and smoke-free campus as of Sept. 11, joining a growing number of colleges in Washington state prohibiting smoking and the use of tobacco products.

The college said its new policy and procedure are intended to promote a healthy educational and work environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

“Our new policy demonstrates our commitment to supporting a healthy, caring, and sustainable campus and community by promoting the holistic health and wellness of all members of the Edmonds CC community,” President Jean Hernandez said.

After much consideration, the college’s Board of Trustees approved the college’s tobacco and smoke-free campus policy and procedure this summer.
The college began considering taking action on its tobacco use policy several years ago. It conducted a second tobacco use survey – the first was in 2011 – held three open forums and formed an advisory committee.

The survey had 757 complete responses and more than 1,000 comments. A majority of those who do not currently use tobacco (64 percent) said the college should be smoke-free, while 90 percent of current users were against a tobacco and smoke-free policy.

In addition, he college spent four to five months talking with students and employees to get as much feedback as possible, said Marisa Pierce, director of marketing and public information. The Tobacco- and Smoke-Free Task Force included representatives from the International Student Services office and two student government representatives, who also are international students.

All were supportive of moving forward with a policy that was not punitive in nature, Pierce said.

Added Hernandez: “While we do not know how this new policy will impact our recruitment of international students, we are committed to creating a healthy environment for our students. In addition, we are preparing them for the 21st-century workforce where healthy habits are more of a priority than they have ever been."

In October, the board also heard from Snohomish Health District’s executive director, Gary Goldbaum, who said the college has an obligation to assure that its friends, family, students and employees have an opportunity to lead a healthy life.

“Tobacco targets the most vulnerable, lower income and less-educated population,” Goldbaum said. “By normalizing the behavior, it facilitates the initiation of smoking to our most vulnerable population.”

According to the Washington State Department of Health, the health consequences and costs of tobacco hit some groups harder and create health disparities. Its website also states that tobacco is associated with six out of 10 leading causes of death in Washington, including cancer, heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease and diabetes, among others.

“As a college, we are committed to ensuring each of our students, employees, and community members have the opportunity to learn, work, and thrive on campus and in the broader community,” said Carl Zapora, Edmonds CC trustee and former CEO of Verdant Health Commission.

“We’re fulfilling our commitment to provide a healthy environment where that’s possible by becoming a tobacco and smoke-free campus.”

Here are the campus’ new guidelines:

  • Use, distribution, or sale of any tobacco products is prohibited on and within all Edmonds CC-owned, leased or managed property.
  • Edmonds CC properties include all college sidewalks, facilities, landscaped areas, sports fields/recreational areas, college buildings and state-owned vehicles.
  • Prohibited tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes and any other smoking devices such as hookahs, e-cigarettes and vape pens.
  • FDA-approved tobacco cessation products, including gum, patches, lozenges, etc., are allowed on campus.
  • Campus police officers will issue policy “reminder” cards to those who are observed using prohibited tobacco products.

Those who see someone using tobacco products on campus should use courtesy and consideration when informing them of the college’s new policy, the college said.

The policy is not meant to be punitive, officials say. This year, the college is working toward encouraging everyone to follow the policy and procedure; however, if there is an increase in violations over time, it might move toward a stricter policy in fall 2018.

Pierce said that EdCC recognizes that quitting tobacco use is a personal choice and can be a significant challenge. The college is committed to assisting its community members in their efforts to quit, and provides a list of resources at its Wellness Center in Lynnwood Hall.

 

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