The EKU president noted that nearly 800 college campuses nationwide and many within Kentucky, which has the highest tobacco use rate in the nation, are completely tobacco-free, adding that many of those institutions report higher success rates in quitting tobacco use, lower health care costs and increased enrollment.
As of 2012, Benson said, EKU employee insurance plans – the university is self-insured – covered nearly $900,000 for preventable health conditions associated with tobacco use. “If more employees stop using tobacco products, this cost could be greatly reduced.
“It is important to note,” he added, “that a tobacco-free policy is also consistent with other campus policies that seek to reduce injury and illness by eliminating hazards and unsafe conditions on campus. We are not saying (EKU students and employees) must quit smoking, but we are saying you will not be able to use tobacco while you are on the EKU campus. If you are ready to quit, we want to support your efforts.”
Toward that end, the university will provide resources, including counseling, a smoking cessation program using the Cooper/Clayton method, and other support services as identified by the Tobacco-Free Task Force. A website containing resource information, activities and other related information about the policy and task force will be operational soon, Benson said.
“It is our hope that this policy will help our campus to build an environment of mutual respect and consideration, as well as show ourselves as leaders in our community while keeping our ‘Campus Beautiful.’”