Penn State Altoona to implement changes in smoking policy

The Penn State Altoona campus will change its smoking policy beginning Aug. 15, on the recommendation of the college’s Smoking Task Force.

By gathering information from other colleges and universities and conducting surveys at Penn State Altoona, it was determined that with the exception of four designated areas, smoking will be prohibited outside any of the buildings, on sidewalks located on campus, and in parking lots on campus. Two smoking areas will be near the residence halls while two other locations will be around campus perimeters. Shelters will be installed this fall at three of these locations, excluding the location outside the Maintenance and Operations Building; the exact locations may be viewed online at http://www.altoona.psu.edu/map.

Students, faculty and staff will be encouraged to quit smoking and will be provided with numerous resources related to cessation. Penn State Altoona’s Health and Wellness Center, in partnership with the Blair County Human Services Office, will be offering a comprehensive onsite tobacco use cessation program titled, “My Path to a Smoke-Free Future” to students, faculty and staff. This unique program, developed by the Mayo Clinic, is free to students, faculty, and staff who are contemplating quitting or who are ready to quit tobacco products. The program runs weekly for six weeks and follows a group format. Individual sessions also are available. In addition to program support, free nicotine replacement products will be offered. For those in need of prescribed medication, evaluation by a medical provider will be necessary. Medications will be offered at a reduced cost for students if not covered by insurance.

Recognizing the physiological aspects of nicotine addiction, the newest prescribed medication available to the public is Chantix. Chantix contains no nicotine and works by blocking nicotine receptors found in the brain. Chantix will be available to students at a reduced cost on a first-come, first-served basis pending medical approval. In addition, Blair County Human Services is working with the Health and Wellness Center to provide an array of nicotine replacement products free of charge to students, faculty, and staff, pending a doctor’s approval.

Students, faculty, staff and the public may learn more about the effects of tobacco use through “Tobacco 101,” a new and evolving tobacco cessation support Web site at http://www.altoona.psu.edu/stopsmoking. The site provides up-to-date information regarding the healthy rewards of quitting tobacco products, the health dangers of tobacco use, and the addictive properties of nicotine.

Penn State Altoona’s change in policy will provide a healthier environment for all campus constituents and a suitable atmosphere for smokers who want to quit. Also, it will eliminate the risk of accidental fire and eliminate the environmental impact of cigarette litter.

To date, Penn State Altoona has adhered to Policy AD32 which indicates that smoking of any material is prohibited in all University facilities, at all locations, including University-owned vehicles. It also is prohibited in any outside area adjacent to a facility whose configuration and/or other physical circumstances allow smoke either to enter and affect the internal environment or to unduly affect the environment of those entering or exiting the facility. This policy was later interpreted to include limiting the number of smoking entrances to buildings and moving the distance for smoking areas at least 15 feet from the entrance.

According to a report released this April by the American Non-Smokers Rights Foundation, Penn State Altoona will join at least 49 other campuses that are smoke-free with minor exemptions for remote outdoor areas.

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Last Updated August 11, 2009