East Carolina University announced Nov. 14 it was one of 20 universities to receive a $20,000 grant from the American Cancer Society and CVS Health Foundation to make it campus tobacco-free.
The grant will help assist the school in the enforcement of a policy starting in Fall 2017, which will require students who wish to smoke to be 100 feet away from any university building on the main campus.
The current smoking policy on campus is that students must be 25 feet away from an ECU building when smoking, or else they could face paying a $25 fine.
Two-thirds of ECU students said a tobacco-free policy would be beneficial for them in the Health 1000 survey the school conducted last year, and eight percent of students said they smoked themselves.
Joseph Lee, an assistant professor of health education and promotion in the College of Health and Human Performance, worked with ECU’s University Wellness committee to submit the proposal for the grant and serves as the principal investigator for the grant.
Lee said the purpose of the grant is to promote healthy living and give smokers the necessary resources to follow through with quitting.
“It is designed to help ECU towards being a healthier campus...It is in our mission as an university, to improve the health and wealth of eastern North Carolinian,” said Lee.
Lee said ECU is going to be trying to change the attitude on campus towards smoking, rather than focusing on enforcing the policy with the fear of punishment. Lee said the school plans to do this by informing students on the danger of smoking and the effects secondhand smoking can have on one.
“We have to change the social norms on campus through education and inspiration,” said Lee. “This really has to be about getting buy in from the campus community to help make the campus healthier and safer.”
Megan Demarco, a senior biology major, is working on undergraduate research with Lee. Demarco said she supports this initiative, because her family has personally suffered from the effects of tobacco.
“My uncle died from lung cancer and not seeing him every holiday reminds me of the dangers in tobacco use and encourages me to fight for healthy breathing air for all,” said Demarco. “Every American deserves the same right to equal health and being exposed to secondhand smoke shouldn't be a consequence of walking to class in my opinion.”
Demarco is also a member of SGA’s assembly. In support of the efforts to change ECU’s current smoking policy, Demarco proposed a resolution to SGA last night at its weekly meeting which was referred to a committee where it will be brought up later for consideration. Demarco said because of the amount of students who agreed with a no-smoking policy in last year’s survey, SGA has a right to speak for this majority.