Letter to the Editor

In response to the “A smoke-free campus?” article in the December 13, 2012 edition of the Guidon, I would like to clarify the position of the Wellness Committee and the smoke free/tobacco free policy change that was brought forward.  This policy change has been discussed by the Wellness Committee for many years.

There are several reasons for the proposed changes, which do include the banning of “smoking of any tobacco product and the use of smokeless tobacco, including chew, dip, and snuff, as well as any product that gives the appearance of smoking such as electronic cigarettes or other inhaled nicotine devices.”

The first and foremost is the health risk to a smoker and his/her family members through second-hand smoke.  The Wellness Committee is committed to “promote a multi-dimensional wellness program that provides education and activities for staff, faculty, and students to motivate habits and attitudes that will contribute positively to their total health and well-being and ultimately enhance their productivity and quality of life.” As such, we have sponsored an annual wellness and benefits fair, flu shot clinic, and biometric assessments, in addition to various physical activities each semester.  Faculty and staff have had an opportunity to participate in a health risk assessment that provided a detailed report indicating his/her overall health.

The second is the cost.  Not only the cost to the smoker, which can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars per year, but the cost of our health insurance coverage that covers the expense of a smoker’s illnesses, the cost of lost productivity and absenteeism, and the risk to the health of others who are subjected to the unclean air a smoker generates.

The third are the movements by the U.S. military and Vermont that military bases and training facilities and all Vermont college campuses become smoke and tobacco-free.  The U.S. military recognizes that tobacco use “impairs military readiness, harms the health of soldiers and veterans, and imposes a substantial financial burden on the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.” In Vermont, the emphasis is to help prevent college-age students from becoming addicted to nicotine and having the difficult task of trying to quit at some time in the future.

To help assist our campus smokers, the Wellness Committee will be sponsoring smoking cessation classes, one-on-one counseling, and partnering with the Vermont Quitline to help assist smokers to kick the habit.

 

Ellen Danahy Liptak PHR
Associate Director of
Human Resources
Chair, Wellness Committee

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