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Fort Lewis College to become a smoke-free campus

Fort Lewis College to become a smoke-free campus

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

On November 2, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order that, in part, extends the current prohibition on smoking in state buildings to e-cigarette use and vaping, as well as to the grounds of state buildings. As a state institution, Fort Lewis College (FLC) will become a smoke-free campus.

“I see smoking as a serious public health issue for both smoker and non-smoker alike, and I am 100 percent in support of Fort Lewis College becoming a smoke-free campus,” says FLC President Tom Stritikus. “I understand this may be a difficult transition for some, but I hope a smoke-free campus can be a motivator for people to quit.”

FLC will immediately begin the transition to a smoke-free environment, with the new policy going into full effect on January 1, 2019. This policy applies to all employees, students, visitors, contractors and externally affiliated individuals or companies renting FLC­owned space on FLC­owned and operated property.

"Smoking," refers to smoking any substance, including but not limited to, tobacco, cloves, or marijuana. "Smoking Products" include, but are not limited to, all cigarette products (cigarettes, bidis, kreteks, e-cigarettes, etc.) and all smoke-producing products (cigars, pipes, hookahs, vaporizers, etc.). FLC-owned and operated campus grounds include, but are not limited to: all outdoor common and educational areas; all FLC buildings; FLC housing; campus sidewalks; campus parking lots; recreational areas; outdoor stadiums; and FLC-owned and leased vehicles (regardless of location). 

In 2013, former FLC President Dene Kay Thomas’ cabinet enacted a policy limiting smoking on campus to designated areas. Prior to the areas, a 50-feet from buildings restriction was the sole smoking policy. 

“With our health assessment data continuing to show a downward trend in tobacco use, a smoke- and vape-free policy on campus can help reduce rates further,” says Kendra Gallegos Reichle, Student Wellness Initiatives coordinator and WellPAC advisor. “With an increasing number of work places restricting tobacco use, this will also help prepare our students for life beyond college.”

Eight campuses in Colorado are already smoke-free, as well as more than 2,000 colleges and universities across the nation, but a recent surge in vaping, especially with youth, inspired Hickenlooper’s definitive order. A recent study shows Colorado teens have the highest incidence of vaping in the country.

“To lead the nation in youth vaping is intolerable,” Hickenlooper said in a press release. “Collectively, we can help ensure families better understand the lifetime health impact of vaping at a young age and work to decrease the number of youths turning to this popular, yet problematic form of nicotine.”
"We know that this is an abrupt change that will affect many students living both on and off campus,” says Associated Students for Fort Lewis College President Chance Salway. “While this is going to be a difficult transition, there are resources available." 

Students who seek help for smoking cessation can contact the Student Health Center in the Miller Student Services building at 247-7355. FLC’s WellPAC also offers quit packs and peer support. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommends the following online resources:

Colorado QuitLine
Become an EX
Tobacco Free CO

Why is Fort Lewis College going smoke-free?
The short answer is that the governor’s executive order prohibits smoking and vaping on state grounds, and FLC is a state institution. In addition to that, smoking is a serious public health issue that can impact both smokers and non-smokers. Moving to a smoke-free campus is a way to promote the health and well-being of all who live, work, and study at Fort Lewis College.

When is Fort Lewis College becoming a smoke-free campus?
The transition to a smoke-free campus will begin immediately. New signage will be going up around campus notifying people of the changes. On January 1, 2019, the smoke-free campus will be in full effect.

What areas are included in the smoke-free campus?
Beginning January 1, 2019, you may not smoke anywhere on the Fort Lewis College campus, including the nature trails on the Rim, the Softball Complex, and the Smith Sports Fields. Old Fort Lewis in Hesperus will also be a smoke-free campus. In addition, the City of Durango has an ordinance in place that prohibits smoking at:
•    Bus stops or waiting areas to board public transportation
•    City owned parks, playgrounds, picnic pavilions or fixed covered seating areas located in a city-owned park
•    City-owned recreational facilities and ball fields, excluding Hillcrest Golf Course
•    The Animas River Trail and adjacent greenway owned by the city

Why are e-cigarettes/vaping no longer allowed on campus?
There is evidence pointing to the health risks of e-cigarettes and vaping. Dr. Jasmine Reese, director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Specialty Clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, explains, “These products contain many different chemicals including nicotine. Nicotine is addictive and causes harmful effects to the adolescent brain, which is still developing. Aerosols produced by e-cigarettes and vaping devices are also harmful to the lungs and contain toxic cancer-causing chemicals and other harmful agents such as volatile substances, ultra-fine particles, and heavy metals like nickel, tin and lead. Not only are teens inhaling these substances into their own lungs but bystanders also are inhaling these toxins. Other dangers include e-cigarettes and electronic devices that are defective can cause fires and serious unintended injuries. Research also suggests that youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes in the future.”

What resources can help me quit smoking?
There are many resources available to help a person quit smoking. Good places to start include: Colorado QuitLine, Become an EX, Tobacco Free CO, and Smokefree.gov. FLC students can visit or contact the Student Health Center in Miller Student Services for smoking cessation information, programs, and aids, including nicotine gum. WellPAC also offers quit packs and peer support. FLC employees have access to resources through the Human Resources office.

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