I applaud the News for printing Julie Kunrath’s column (“Making our campus tobacco-free,” Oct. 28), which suggested that Yale should ban tobacco on campus. While I support this idea, I highly doubt Yale would take such drastic action, and I suggest a more focused alternative: The University should subsidize smoking cessation.
There are many people on campus, both students and employees, who wish to quit smoking. Subsidizing smoking cessation as part of the Yale Health Plan has obvious social value, but there are economic gains to be had as well. According to estimates by Pfizer, employers pay approximately $1,200 more per year in health costs for smokers than they do for former smokers. Aggregated across all of the smokers at Yale who want to quit, this adds up to a massive cost-savings for the University, especially since benefits for smoking cessation cost employers just $1.20 to $4.80 per employee each year.
Over the next month, Colleges Against Cancer will be surveying Yale Dining employees to estimate the costs smoking imposes on Yale from the time lost due to smoke breaks; however, due to the smoke-related health effects University Health Services must deal with every year, the cost of smoking to the University is undoubtedly higher than simply costs from smoke breaks. We urge Yale students and administration to push the health plan to subsidize smoking cessation — a powerful first step toward a smoke-free university.
The writer is a senior in Pierson College and the President of Colleges Against Cancer.