As part of an effort to promote healthy lifestyles among students, faculty, and staff, the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees passed a 100% tobacco-free campus policy, becoming the largest higher education institution in Chicago to do so. The policy, which takes effect March 1, prohibits tobacco use (including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products) on all college property, affecting more than 120,000 students and 5,800 faculty and staff, as well as visitors.
“This is an important step towards ensuring that our students have healthy and safe environments to live, learn, play, and succeed,” declares Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Promoting healthy environments is crucial to securing a high-quality of life for Chicagoans in every neighborhood, supporting a vibrant economy, and keeping our city on the cutting edge.”
The policy covers City Colleges’ seven satellite locations and the district office. City Colleges is offering Courage to Quit smoking cessation classes and other resources to assist students, faculty, and staff at each college who want to quit smoking or stop using other tobacco products. These resources will be available at new college Wellness Centers.
“As we reinvent our institution to ensure students are prepared to compete for the jobs of the future, we must also provide a learning environment that protects their future health and well-being,” explains Chancellor Hyman. “The tobacco-free policy helps create a college environment that promotes a healthy lifestyle among our faculty, staff, and students, and benefits the entire City Colleges community.”
“The policy is critical in saving lives, and is an important step in implementing the City’s public health agenda, Healthy Chicago,” says Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “College students use tobacco at a higher rate than the average of adults across the nation and we applaud City Colleges of Chicago for its bold move to help reduce tobacco use and decrease exposure to secondhand smoke,”
Prior to adopting the policy, City Colleges conducted a survey of students, faculty, and staff, which found that 85% of respondents said that a tobacco-free policy would improve health for staff and students. 80% of those surveyed believe the policy will introduce changes in social norms, creating a healthier school environment. More than half of all smokers surveyed said that on-campus smoking cessation programs will help them transition to a tobacco-free lifestyle.
The Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC) assisted City Colleges in crafting its policy. Joel Africk, RHAMC President and CEO comments, “Studies have shown that tobacco-free policies make it easier for people who want to quit smoking to be successful and decrease the likelihood that others will start. This is especially true when an institution offers group classes or other free resources to help people quit smoking.”
The City Colleges of Chicago District-wide Student Government Association voted unanimously to support the tobacco-free campus policy. This policy is just the first component in City Colleges’ overall Healthy Campus initiative, which will also include healthy and affordable food choices, zero tolerance for violence/bullying, green initiatives, and other healthy activities.