The recently launched Tobacco-Free Yale campaign, which held its kick-off event Thursday afternoon in the Woolsey Rotunda, aims to eliminate tobacco use at Yale within the next year.
The campaign, which is a collaborative effort between Yale Health, the Yale School of Medicine, the Yale School of Public Health and Yale Human Resources, plans to achieve this through smoking-cessation programs and increasing awareness of the benefits of quitting, as well as outreach to students, faculty and staff through campus representatives. The campaign will draw inspiration from similar initiatives at other universities nationwide, including the University of Kentucky, Ohio State University and the University of California system, which all prohibit tobacco use on their campuses.
Matthew Ribeiro ’15, a Woodbridge fellow involved in the campaign’s organization, said the aim of Tobacco-Free Yale is to move towards a culture that will support the absence of tobacco on campus, but that its more immediate focus was to make smokers who wished to quit aware of the resources available to them at Yale.
“We’re eventually moving towards a culture that will support that,” he said. “We don’t want to implement anything without broad support. That is the whole point of our outreach program. The goal of this is to provide [anyone who wants to quit] with the resources and the support needed to quit.”
University Deputy Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Janet Lindner said the campaign follows many other efforts at Yale to curb the use of tobacco within the University community.
She said there are already several efforts on campus to limit tobacco use, including smoke-free grounds at Yale Health and the Medical School campus.
“The School of Public Health works on many aspects of smoking cessation and awareness, and a team has been conducting a pilot on [Yale’s] campus to assess how best to help smokers quit,” she added.
According to Lindner, the city of New Haven is also working to create a tobacco-free environment in its public parks and other areas across the city. Because of Yale’s downtown location, it will be critical to get advice and support from city officials, Lindner added.
She said that the campaign is a public health campaign to help smokers who wish to quit do so and will not involve “smoking police.” Tobacco-Free Yale will involve outreach to different areas of campus through teams of volunteers called Tobacco-Free ambassadors, Lindner said, adding that the campaign would try various approaches to reduce smoking and would be assessed again next summer.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming tobacco-free,” Lindner said. “Our goal is to try a variety of approaches, and to listen to what smokers, former smokers and nonsmokers have to say, and that will help us shape our approach at Yale. We will see how well we do and will assess the campaign next summer. Based on what we learn, we’ll develop our next steps. Years ago, no one thought it was possible to have smoke-free office buildings, restaurants or bars, but today we accept it as a given.”
Lindner added that the campaign includes student advisors representing both the Yale College Council and the Graduate Student Assembly and will welcome student feedback throughout the year.
Lisa Kimmel, senior wellness manager of Being Well at Yale, said that the campaign will utilize a new telephonic coaching system developed at Yale — a personalized service that guides smokers through the process of quitting tobacco, free of charge. She added that the Yale-developed iPhone application “Craving to Quit,” which encourages quitting through mindfulness exercises, would be publicized as part of the campaign.
“We would really anticipate that more of faculty and staff and their dependents might utilize [the telephonic coaching system],” Kimmel said. “For students, they have also very similar resources. But they mostly find more interest in using things like [Craving to Quit].That’s available free of charge.”
Kimmel added that the increased awareness of nicotine-replacement methods for smokers who wish to quit made now a good time for the launch of the campaign. She also acknowledged ongoing research at Yale regarding smoking-cessation methods as timely.
According to Ribeiro, over 1,100 university campuses nationwide have instituted tobacco-free policies.