UCLA goes smoke-free

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UCLA Bruins Bear logo

UCLA Bruins Bear logo (AP photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The UCLA campus will become a smoke- and tobacco- free zone beginning in April, Chancellor Gene Block announced today, following through on a request by the president of the University of California system.

The policy will take effect on Earth Day, April 22, Block said. It will ban the use of all tobacco products, along with electronic cigarettes, on the UCLA campus and at any sites owned or leased by the university.

“Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke remain the leading causes of preventable disease and death worldwide,” Block wrote in a letter to the UCLA community. “A draft of the tobacco-free policy will be available for review by students, faculty and staff beginning Nov. 15. We also plan to ensure that tobacco users in our community have access to a variety of free and low- cost support services, in addition to those provided by health insurance, to help them.”

According to UCLA, the university is the first in the UC system to announce plans to ban tobacco products, although more than 800 colleges across the country have enacted similar policies.

UC President Mark Yudof previously requested that all campuses in the system adopt a tobacco-free policy. UCLA created a Tobacco-Free Steering Committee, which recommended the policy to Block and will develop an implementation plan, according to the university.

Linda Sarna, a UCLA nursing professor and chair of the campus’ Academic Senate, said tobacco bans on other university campuses have led to an increase in the number of people who quit smoking.

“The world is changing,” she said. “People didn’t used to wear seatbelts or bike helmets, and they used to smoke in airplanes and restaurants. But we know more than we did in the 1950s and we have to act. We have a responsibility to the health of our campus, and this is the right thing to do.”

She said the university will work with the county Department of Public Health to offer free two-week starter kits for smokers who want to quit.

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