Maryville University’s main campus becomes smoke-free environment


Students at Maryville University have been passing out gum, nuts, suckers _ and information encouraging others on campus to quit smoking. Just in time to help people meet their New Year’s resolutions, Maryville University’s main campus became smoke free beginning Jan. 1.

Maryville University’s main campus has prohibited smoking inside buildings for some time. Now the main campus’ school grounds are also a smoke-free environment. Smokers may have a cigarette in their cars or off campus. However, the University has put several programs in place to encourage students and employees to quit their tobacco use.

For students, an online tobacco cessation program called Freedom from Smoking is available. It offers personal or group assistance and after three sessions nicotine replacement is available. Nurse Pam Culliton has information to encourage people to give up their tobacco use, including tips from former smokers and information about the health and financial benefits of quitting. She also has three copies of a book that has helped some smokers quit, Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.

The snacks and gums being handed out are meant to distract smokers for a few minutes when they feel like having a cigarette, in hopes that the craving will dissipate. Students set up a bowling game where other students knocked down bowling pins shaped like cigarette butts to encourage people to quit during the American Cancer Society’s Great American SmokeOut on Nov. 17. First-year student Donald Thorsen, 19, of Jacksonville, Ill., said he knew four friends who were trying to quit their use of chewing tobacco. “A lot of kids want to quit dipping before Christmas break. Some of them have already started.” Several nursing students said they know how hard it is to encourage people to break their habits, but they hoped the smoke-free campus would result in less second-hand smoke and improve air quality.

Director of Human Resources Jackie Plunkett notes several options are available to employees who want to quit smoking. The Employee Assistance Plan provides multiple sessions of coaching over the phone. The medical plan includes access to health coaches who provide smoking cessation support and eight weeks of over-the-counter nicotine replacement items, like patches, gum or lozenges. Or employees on the medical plan may see their doctor about a possible prescription for smoking cessation medication.

Culliton says she has gotten a variety of responses to Maryville University’s decision to go smoke free. “Some smokers are using this policy to finally get themselves motivated to quit,” though others don’t intend to stop their use of tobacco. “It was time for Maryville to go smoke free,” she said of the change.