Smoking is the leading preventable cause of premature death. Prevention of tobacco use among the college population is crucial, as 99% of all regular smokers start and become addicted by age 26. High rates of tobacco use among college students run counter to downward trends in the general population.
More students at Willamette abstain from smoking than their peers at other institutions. Even so, Willamette students would benefit from a smoke free environment.
A 2012 ASWU survey found that 57.2% of students agreed with the statement “I am bothered by people who smoke cigarettes on campus”.
An informal survey at last year’s Employee Benefit’s Fair found that 93% of participants wished Willamette were tobacco-free. Comments included “Finally!” and “I don’t like walking though smoke to get across campus”.
An ASWU survey administered in Spring 2014 found that 67% of students believe this issue deserves attention, but only 58% of students were ready to implement a tobacco-free policy.
More than 1000 colleges and universities in the United States have smoke-free policies; including Willamette’s neighbors Corban University, Chemeketa Community College, Oregon State University, Portland State University and the University of Oregon. Twenty-six Oregon colleges and universities are currently smoke-free. Many more, including Western Oregon University, have made the commitment to become smoke free by 2016.
The Fresh Air Campus Challenge is a collaborative effort by of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, and the Tobacco Prevention and Control Programs of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to engage all colleges and universities throughout the Pacific Northwest to develop and implement a smoke- or tobacco-free campus policy by 2016.