UTSA to begin transition to tobacco-free status on June 1, 2013

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(April 8, 2013) -- The UTSA Tobacco-Free Task Force has received support from President Ricardo Romo and the Campus Management and Operations Committee (CMO) to move forward with the university’s tobacco-free and smoke-free campaign.

The transition of the UTSA campuses to tobacco- and smoke-free status will begin June 1, 2013. During the transition period, smoking and tobacco use will be allowed only on surface parking lots except for the following:

  • Main Campus
    Ximenes Avenue lot
    Ford Avenue lot
    Laurel Village lot (directly in front of the Laurel Village main office)
  • Downtown Campus
    Parking lots around Monterey Building
  • HemisFair Park Campus
    No restricted parking lots

UTSA will go completely tobacco-free and smoke-free on June 1, 2014.

Task force representatives presented recommendations and an updated UTSA Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP) tobacco-free policy to the CMO on March 19. Because of the potential hazards caused by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, it will be the policy of UTSA to provide a tobacco-free environment for all employees and visitors.

The recommendations for the UTSA Tobacco-free Campaign include a one-year transition period starting June 1, 2013. The transition-period approach was supported by research from other universities showing that a transition period facilitates change in behavior and culture. All temporary tobacco-permitted areas will be phased out June 1, 2014.

All UTSA students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors will be responsible for adhering to the policy. Units hosting events on campus will be responsible for ensuring visitors and guests comply. Violations will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis in accordance with established disciplinary policies.

Other recommendations include establishment of a clear definition of tobacco-products prohibited, which will include all forms of tobacco products including but not limited to cigarettes (any type, including herbal), cigars, pipes, water pipes (hookah), bidis, kreteks, electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, snuff and chewing tobacco.

A transition group will manage the next steps of implementation and work with respective departments and units to ensure that key steps of the communication plan are carried out. Communication efforts will be educational and will focus on informing students, faculty, and staff about the new policy.

Discussion about UTSA becoming tobacco-free began with requests from staff and faculty members to President Ricardo Romo. Several UTSA buildings went tobacco- and smoke-free on Aug. 31, 2012.

The HOP 9.36 Tobacco-Free and Smoke-Free Policy is being handled by the UTSA HOP Committee as any other policy and is currently under key stakeholder review. It is on schedule to be final-approved before the June 1, 2013, transition start date.

For more information, contact Sonia Martinez, special assistant to the president, at 210-458-6887 or Barbara Centeno, associate vice president for human resources, at 210-458-4037.

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Tobacco health risks: Did you know?

  • Tobacco use accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths in the United States.
  • Each year, approximately 3,400 non-smoking adults die of lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke.
  • Each year, secondhand smoke also causes approximately 46,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are not current smokers.
  • Smokeless tobacco products are less lethal but are not a safe alternative to smoking.
  • Using smokeless tobacco can lead to nicotine addiction.
  • The use of tobacco in any form harms your health.

(Source: Cancer Facts and Figures, 2013; Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Facts and Figures, 2010)