RICHMOND — Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson on Friday announced that a task force has been established to finalize a tobacco-free policy on campus, to take effect June 1.
The task force will develop implementation strategies that assist the university community with the transition, a university news release stated.
Since 2006, the university has prohibited smoking in buildings and restricted it to designated locations on campus. Benson said it is anticipated that the new tobacco-free policy will not only prohibit the use of tobacco products in and around buildings, but also eliminate its use throughout campus, including all outdoor areas.
“We have an opportunity to improve the health of everyone who steps on our campus,” Benson said in a video (video.eku.edu/tobacco-free) and letter posted on the university’s home page. “Second-hand smoke exposure causes nearly 50,000 deaths each year among adults in the United States, and it is also linked to numerous health issues – including heart disease and lung cancer. Tobacco use is the leading cause of avoidable death in the United States, contributing to 443,000 deaths each year.
“These statistics,” Benson continued, “demonstrate the need to make improvements. We care about the health and well-being of all our students and employees, and we want to provide everyone with a chance to attend school and work in a safe and healthy environment. The truth is there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco products.”
Noting that a Presidential Suggestion Box he announced at Fall Convocation has received numerous messages in support of making the campus cleaner and healthier, Benson said, “We have found it to be in the best interest of all those on campus to improve the health of our community by removing the exposure and use of tobacco products.”
Benson said the tobacco-free policy enjoys “the support of the great majority of our faculty, staff, students and governing board, and is supported by the results of the April 2012 tobacco-free campus survey. It is our responsibility as educators, role models and concerned members of our campus community to do the greatest good.”