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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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NMU goes tobacco free in August

Northern Michigan University will be a tobacco-free campus as of August 1st, 2014. According to the policy found on Northern’s website, the new guidelines apply to university property and university-owned vehicles; areas that the policy excludes are public sidewalks and roadways that border campus, personal vehicles driven or parked on campus that have windows fully closed and NMU’s golf course.

Barb Coleman, professor of health educator and health and fitness serves on NMU’s Tobacco-Free Committee and has been a member of the Employee Wellness committee.

“I have spent my whole career educating people about the fact that tobacco use was the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.,” Coleman said.

“Very practically speaking, this move can decrease illness and health care costs, prevent toxic tobacco debris (a huge issue for children and wildlife) as well as reduce litter and enhance NMU’s environment.”

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The policy bans all tobacco products defined by the American College Health Association as “All tobacco-derived or containing products, including cigarettes, vapor cigarettes (e-cigarettes), cigars, cigarillos, hookah-smoked products and all oral tobacco (spit and spitless, smokeless, chew, snuff).”

Consequences of violation in policy can be found at NMU’s website. Discipline for students who fail to comply with the policy will refer to the Student Code, for appropriate action.

Discipline for employees who fail to comply with the policy will refer to his/her “applicable union agreement, personnel policy manual and tobacco-free policy,” as stated online. Visitors who violate the policy will be “asked to discontinue their tobacco-related activities.” If the individual fails to comply, they will be asked to leave campus.

Director of Communications Cindy Paavola, chairwoman of the Tobacco-Free Committee, said the course of disciplinary action is not to punish.

“We have a three-step policy: inform, warn and act,” Paavola said.  “Student health is our number one priority.”

While the decision will be put in effect the end of August, the Initiatives History information on NMU’s tobacco-free website reveals that the  discussion of a tobacco-free campus began in the late 1990s.  Paavola said the Tobacco-Free Committee was appointed mid-summer of 2013 and that the committee was in contact on a regular basis to research the topic.

Lenny Shible, a Health Promotion Specialist, works at the Health Promotions office and is also a member of the Tobacco-Free Committee. Shible said the committee conducted research and presented recommendations to the president and the Board of Trustees, and each member of the committee was responsible for a certain part of the research.

“We look at all different aspects of the choice to go tobacco free and some of the people on the committee look at different pieces of that,” Shible said.

The initial Tobacco-Free Committee had different areas of expertise represented. “Our initial committee had representatives from ASNMU, Faculty, Public Safety, the Health Center, The Dean Of Students, the Employee Wellness Committee, Communications, Academic Affairs, Finance, Human Resources, Facility Operations, Conference and Catering and the Health Promotion Office,” Coleman said.

With the policy being enforced this fall, the committee will stay.

“The committee stays in place to work on publicity, smoking and enforcement concerns about the new policy,” Shible said. “It is important that we or the people understand that the committee or the university is not telling people that they can’t smoke. Not about the decision to smoke but the location to smoke.”

The committee continues to work with the county health department, in efforts to offering assistance to students affected by the policy change.

Sara Derwin is a health educator for the Marquette Health Department and has a long- standing relationship with NMU faculty and others at the Health Promotion office. Derwin is conducting cessation classes. The classes are open to NMU students, faculty and staff.

“We try to keep them at an hour,” Derwin said about the classes. “It’s at that point that I introduce them to a lot of materials and we do a tobacco cessation class; we talk about what quitting is going to look like, we go over quit plans and talk about triggers.”

Assistance in receiving other therapy methods is available at the Health Promotion office, as well as the health center. Sessions are planned for once a month and more information will be posted on NMU’s tobacco free website.

“The function of public health is here to answer questions and hook people up with the resources,” Derwin said.

While the policy will be in effect on August 1st, Coleman said she hopes NMU’s community will appreciate the new policy.

“I sincerely hope that our Campus Community will appreciate the fact that our institution cares about the well-being of all the campus community and is providing an environment that is free from a substance that causes 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from second hand smoke),” Coleman said.

More information regarding the policy, enforcement and cessation classes can be found at www.nmu.edu/tobaccofree/.

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