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MSU to Implement Smoke-Free Campus Policy

For Immediate Release: April 16, 2015
Contact:  Clinton R. Coleman, 443-885-3022

Morgan State University is going smoke-free! President David Wilson is taking steps to promote a healthier campus environment with implementation of a new smoke-free campus policy. The new policy, unanimously approved by the Board of Regents earlier this year, extends the current ban on smoking inside university buildings to include a total ban on smoking anywhere on the campus, including exterior spaces. It bans smoking or carrying any lighted tobacco product and also prohibits so-called e-cigarettes, hookahs and pipes.

The policy applies to faculty, staff, students, vendors, guests and visitors to the campus. Violators are subject to escalating penalties, ranging from referral to smoking cessation programs, to much harsher penalties for repeat offenders such as fines, suspension or dismissal from the university.

“This is a major step forward in creating a healthier environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors to our campus,” said Dr. Wilson. “A number of our students requested a smoke-free campus for their own safety and health, and I am very pleased that the Board of Regents has joined with us to make this happen.”

The new smoke-free policy takes effect July 1, 2015 after an extensive communication campaign to educate constituents about the policy change. The education campaign includes information about resources being offered by the University such as counseling and access to programs to assist employees and students to quit or never start smoking.

Morgan has long been a proponent of health behavioral change to help improve the lives of people on campus and in urban communities through its School of Community Health and Policy (SCHP). Students in the public health program began working nearly four years ago for a tobacco-free campus, including surveying Morgan freshmen entering the University in the fall of 2010, which showed more than 24-percent of them were current smokers who wanted to quit, had tried several times and failed. The new smoke-free campus policy will save many lives, according to the SCHP’s Dr. Anne Marie O’Keefe.

“When parents send their children to Morgan State, they will now be protected for a lifetime,” says Dr. O’Keefe. “That’s because research shows that people who haven’t started smoking before the age of 21 are very unlikely to ever start. Remaining smoke-free will encourage and empower Morgan students to adopt healthy attitudes in many ways.”

With a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Morgan’s Prevention Sciences Research Center has developed Communities Engaged in Advocating for Smoke-free Environments or CEASE.  The initiative is based in Southwest Baltimore, where the rate of tobacco use is estimated to be three times the national average, partners with businesses, faith-based organizations, schools and recovery organizations to create healthy, smoke-free communities.

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie classified doctoral research institution offering more than 60 academic programs leading to bachelor’s degrees as well as programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. As Maryland’s public urban university, Morgan serves a multi-ethnic and multi-racial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information on Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu. For more information about programs to help students and others keep the habit, contact Dr. Anne Marie O’Keefe at 443-885-4042 or email:  tobaccofreemorgan@morgan.edu. For information on the CEASE initiative visit www.CEASEbaltimore.orgor contact Dr. Payam Sheikhattari at 443-889-3639

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