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CSULB Breathe campaign enforces smoke-free campus

Cigarettes, vapes and all tobacco-related products are prohibited on CSULB campus.

Riva Lu, Contributing Writer

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Nostrils and lungs will be spared from smoke this fall semester.

Cal State Long Beach’s Breathe campaign will enforce a smoke-vapor and tobacco-free campus effective Sept. 1 2016, according to the campus’ tobacco and smoking policy.

Michael Uhlenkamp, CSULB’s Executive Director of News and Digital Media, said in an email that for the next few years there will be a focus on educating people about the policy and what it entails.

“As with any new policy, this will be a change for some members of the campus community,” Uhlenkamp said. “It is our hope that the previous and ongoing educational efforts resonate with the campus community and people will know that smoking and tobacco use is no longer allowed on campus grounds.”

The ban on smoking includes traditional tobacco products as well as vapor products.  In addition, smoking in personal vehicles will also be prohibited if the vehicle is located on campus property.

“Under state law, the university does have the ability to issue citations for violating the policy, but we don’t plan to take that type of action for the first few years under the policy,” Uhlenkamp said.

Based on research conducted by the Breathe Task Force, CSULB found that educational campaigns such as Breathe are very successful in garnering compliance from the campus community, Uhlenkamp said.

The Breathe Task Force is comprised of students, faculty and staff members who are in charge of the Breathe campaign.

“The Breathe campaign started when the student body voted to institute a stronger smoke-free policy on campus during the spring 2013 semester,” according to the CSULB Breathe website. In response, President Jane Close Conoley established a campus task force to achieve this goal.

The Breathe FAQ page says that establishing a tobacco-free campus preserves everyone’s right to breathe smoke-free air in a cleaner campus environment, while allowing adults who choose to use tobacco to continue to do so off campus.

The campaign’s objective is to promote public awareness of health risks associated with tobacco use and exposure to smoke, including those produced by vapor cigarettes, Shayne Schroeder, Media Expert from the CSULB Office of Public Affairs said in the online publication Inside CSULB.

According to Inside CSULB, 15 students from the Department of Health Science trained as advocates to proactively educate the campus community in regard to the new policy. They also educated students about the availability of free services and tobacco cessation services provided by the university.

“Think of their training as a ‘customer service boot camp’ where they have been trained to interact with members of the campus community who might be violating the policy,” Uhlenkamp said. “Some of these individuals who are smoking or using tobacco might not be aware of the new policy or are battling addiction, so it’s critical that the Breathe Advocates are sympathetic to the situation but also well-versed about the resources that are available.”

Health sciences professor Claire Garrido-Ortega told Inside CSULB that the Breathe Advocates were trained to be compassionate and professional individuals and have seen positive reactions amongst the campaign.

The campaign has also removed approximately 113 ash cans across campus, according to Inside CSULB.

Currently, Breathe campaign advocates are working on a toolkit to provide resources for people who smoke, including a page of mobile apps to help them quit.

“There are physical resources called Breathe Quit Kits, that are available at the Health Center,” Uhlenkamp said. “Students or employees who smoke or use tobacco products and are looking to quit can also access patches and gum from the Health Center.”

Uhlenkamp said that the Health Center is also providing counseling services and support groups for those who are trying to quit smoking.

According to the Breathe FAQ page, this campaign will be beneficial to the campus in more ways than just promoting clean air.

Financially, this campaign will save money because staff will not have to spend time cleaning cigarette litter and will be able to focus on other campus projects.

The policy will also help prepare students for tobacco and smoke-free work environments.

“The staff that had previously been designated with that responsibility [cleaning cigarette litter] can now be deployed to do other things,” Uhlenkamp said. “Less cigarette waste will also make our beautiful campus even more enjoyable.”

The no smoking policy will apply to students, staff, faculty, visitors and vendors.

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