Lighting Up on Campus

By Annarely Rodriguez

Thinking of lighting up in front of the Parker building? Think again. In July of 2009, the Office of Campus Recreation created an initiative called “Healthy Sharks.” The program plans to make NSU a smokefree campus within the next five years.

To make the transition easier, NSU has designated 12 smoking sites, which are located at least 50 feet from buildings. The policy applies to all NSU campuses.

The university’s goal in adopting this policy is to minimize exposure to secondhand smoke, which has been classified as a cause of cancer by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, the U.S. Surgeon General and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Patricia Kelly, associate professor, director and doctor of the Health Science Program in the Health Professions Division, said, “Secondhand smoke has been proven to be dangerous in a number of instances.

Eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke is important for many people with chronic pulmonary (lung) problems, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

Kelly believes that the policy will also help by distancing smokers from nonsmokers, which will prevent others from picking up the habit.

“Students who do not see their peers smoke, either in public or in private, are less likely to start smoking themselves,” she said.

Tom Vitucci, director of campus recreation and collaborator of “Healthy Sharks,” said the revision to the smoking policy had been in process for a few years. The department surveyed the PAN-Student Association, Residential Student Association and the Dean’s Council as part of the research conducted before passing the policy.

“We conducted a survey three years ago, and 3,000 people responded. People expressed their frustration with walking through clouds of smoke to get to class,” said Vitucci.

He also said the policy was not aimed at punishing smokers.

“We just want to help make the university members healthier,” said Vitucci. “[We are not] simply revising the smoking policy. This is part of the ‘Healthy Sharks’ program which will include other initiatives to help improve people’s health.”

Non-smokers like Kaitlin Horvath, sophomore marine biology major, support the policy.

“I think it’s a good idea, but it is not so bad on this campus. In my old school – Ball State in Indiana – you could not walk outside without being covered in smoke,” she said.

Vitucci said people who smoke outside the designated areas will not be ticketed by the university, but they may be sanctioned by their employers.

“Healthy Sharks” encourages people interested in quitting to use NSU’s programs and resources. Programs provided by NSU include motivational counseling through the Guided Self-Change Clinic, support and readiness assessments by NSU pharmacists, as well as prescription and over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies.

For more information about the policy or how to quit smoking, please call the Office of Recreation and Wellness at (954) 262-7042.

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