More than 40 to 50 percent of the cigarettes in the United States are consumed by people with anxiety and other mental disorders, according to Michael J. Zvolensky Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Distinguished University Professor at the University of Houston (UH) and director of the new Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory – Substance Use Treatment Clinic (AHRL – SUTC).
Tobacco-Free Campus Policy
Effective June 1, 2013, the University of Houston is designated as a tobacco-free campus. The use of all tobacco products is prohibited in university buildings and on university grounds, including parking areas, sidewalks, walkways, university-affiliated parking facilities and university-owned buildings, except in temporary designated tobacco-use areas.
The tobacco-free campus policy is part of the university’s commitment to creating a healthy and sustainable environment for all members of the UH community, and is designed to be positive and health-directed. The university is not requiring faculty, staff and students to quit using tobacco products, but does expect the policy to be adhered to by all individuals on university property.
Enforcement of the policy will be achieved primarily through education, awareness and a spirit of cooperation. Tobacco users are expected to adhere to the policy and be respectful to ex-tobacco users and non-tobacco users. Individuals noticing violations of the policy should strive to be non-confrontational and respectful to tobacco users when communicating this policy.
Designated tobacco-use locations have been established on the main UH campus and at the Energy Research Park. The designated tobacco-use areas will be available for a minimum of 12 months from the date of policy enactment. Tobacco cessation services and/or referrals are available to assist students and employees who wish to stop using tobacco products.
In summary, the new tobacco-use policy:
- Activates new tobacco cessation screenings, services and referrals for UH students and employees who want to quit;
- Prohibits the use, sale, advertising and sampling of all tobacco products on the UH Main Campus and the Energy Research Park, including all buildings, vehicles, grounds, sidewalks and parking areas owned or operated by UH;
- Includes a phase-in period of not less than 12 months, during which designated tobacco-use areas will be available. The ongoing need for any or all designated tobacco-use areas will be reviewed annually, with the possibility of continued existence for 12-month intervals at a time.
- Effective implementation relies on the courtesy, respect and cooperation of all members of the UH community. If someone is seen using tobacco on university property outside a designated tobacco use area, any member of the UH community may inform the tobacco user of the policy and request that he/she comply. Individuals who are reported to the Tobacco Task Force for non-compliance will receive a message reminding them of the policy, and the availability of tobacco cessation services. There are no plans at this time to issue citations or fines, or to report anyone to his or her supervisor.
In a broader sense, the tobacco-free policy is another benefit of attending or working for a Tier One-designated university. Other benefits include reduced fire hazards and cleaner campus grounds.