Northeastern to explore smoke-​​free campus

North­eastern has con­vened a com­mittee com­prised of stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff to explore the pos­si­bility of imple­menting a smoke-​​free campus policy.

“North­eastern is com­mitted to the health and well-​​being of society,” said Terry Fulmer, dean of the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences and co-​​chair of the smoke-​​free campus ini­tia­tive com­mittee. “Any­thing that can be done that will dis­courage people from smoking is a good idea.”

Tobacco use, she explained, is the single most pre­ventable cause of dis­ease, dis­ability and death in the United States. According to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, some 443,000 people die each year from smoking or expo­sure to second-​​hand smoke.

North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun and the university’s Senior Lead­er­ship Team appointed Fulmer to chair the com­mittee. In an email to the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity on Tuesday after­noon, she said, “While all build­ings on Northeastern’s campus are cur­rently smoke and tobacco free, we believe it is a good time to explore the poten­tial for a campus-​​wide policy.”

At least 825 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties throughout the nation have already enacted smoke-​​free campus poli­cies, according to the Amer­ican Non­smokers’ Rights Foun­da­tion, an edu­ca­tional non­profit orga­ni­za­tion based in Berkeley, Calif.

In Sep­tember, the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices launched the Tobacco-​​Free Col­lege Campus Ini­tia­tive at the Uni­ver­sity of Michigan, during which the department’s assis­tant sec­re­tary for health pro­claimed, “Campus policies…can pro­tect health and sup­port tobacco-​​free living for some 20 mil­lion stu­dents who are enrolled in insti­tutes of higher learning.”

John Auer­bach, the director of the Insti­tute on Urban Health Research in Bouvé and co-​​chair of the smoke-​​free campus ini­tia­tive com­mittee, plans to meet with the director of Michigan’s smoke-​​free campus pro­gram in an effort to shape Northeastern’s poten­tial smoke-​​free policy.

“We want to iden­tify at least half a dozen col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties that share the char­ac­ter­is­tics of North­eastern and dis­cuss their expe­ri­ence with a smoke-​​free campus,” said Auer­bach, who also holds an appoint­ment as a Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Prac­tice in Bouvé’s Depart­ment of Health Sciences.

Over the next sev­eral months, the com­mittee will seek input from mem­bers of the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity through a series of sur­veys, meet­ings and forums designed to inform its ulti­mate recommendations.

Fulmer noted that feed­back from stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff would be crit­ical to the initiative’s suc­cess. “When you have an idea about some­thing that impacts the com­mu­nity, you want to hear the voices of that com­mu­nity,” she said. “We’re very inter­ested in what stake­holders think about this issue.”

Other mem­bers of the com­mittee com­prise fac­ulty member Richard Day­nard, Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Law and chair of the Senate Agenda Com­mittee; stu­dents Nicole Bourque and Katie Zheng, pres­i­dent of Stu­dent National Phar­ma­ceu­tical Asso­ci­a­tion; and staff mem­bers Made­line Estabrook, director of Stu­dent Health Ser­vices, Nancy May, vice pres­i­dent of facil­i­ties, and Elmer Freeman, director of urban health pro­grams in Bouvé and exec­u­tive director of the Center for Com­mu­nity Health Edu­ca­tion Research and Ser­vice, a community-​​based orga­ni­za­tion cre­ated to pro­mote the devel­op­ment of aca­d­emic com­mu­nity health centers.