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Oct. 27, 2011 Volume 33, No. 10

MU faculty, staff alter smoking habits following new policy


Limited campus smoking areas until 2014

In July, the newest installment of Mizzou’s campuswide smoking ban was instated, and several university employees are changing their habits to fit with the new policy.

It is the second of a three-step phase-out process that will result in a smoke-free campus by Jan. 1, 2014. Now, people are only permitted to smoke around the 15 designated smoking urns on campus, on the top floor of university garages or in parking lots.  

Laura Schopp, director of the T. E. Atkins Wellness Program and professor in health psychology, said her team has received mixed reviews now that more areas have been designated as smoke-free. She said the team has received feedback from people who are unhappy with the changes, as well as from people who would like the phase-out to be on a faster track.

“There was a strong feeling that the campus needed time to adjust to these changes,” Schopp said of their decision to wait until 2014 rather than go cold turkey. “Some people need time to figure out how to comply with the policy.”

Scott Swafford, a professor at the school of journalism, said he has changed his smoking route since the July changes took place.

“Sure, I don’t smoke on campus anymore,” he said. “I’m a faculty member; I’m not going to be seen on campus blatantly disregarding a policy.”  Swafford said now when he goes to have a cigarette, he’ll get off (the Columbia) Missourian property and go walk on a public sidewalk.

“It’s a minor annoyance,” he said, admitting that it may be more difficult for university employees who don’t work so close to the edge of campus. “But if that’s the prevailing will on campus, I’m happy to oblige.”

Schopp said the Wellness Program hopes more students and employees take the ban as an opportunity to quit smoking altogether.

“People who have not considered quitting before have told us they’re going to now, and they’re glad to have the resources to do that,” she said.

Nicotine replacement and smoking cessation programs are available to people who are on the UM System benefits plan, as well as online support, one-on-one coaching and smoking cessation groups. All of these options are available free of charge.

Benjamin Long, a system administrator at Tiger Institute, said he used his health insurance to get on Chantix, a smoking cessation medication.

“It works very well,” he said. “Once you start taking the Chantix, it makes you feel like you did before you started smoking. The need goes away — you just need to break the fixation, which isn’t so bad.”

Schopp said the Wellness team has been working on educating the campus of the new changes, while encouraging smokers to check out the website. Although there are corrective actions listed on the website, Schopp said no one is interested in imposing serious consequences.

“It’s an educational process at this point,” she said. “There are teams of people going out to let people know of the designated areas, hand out sugar-free mints and give them the website address.”

Schopp said she hopes the grace period until 2014 will help provide a smooth transition into a smoke-free campus.

“Ultimately, of course, no one policy is going to please everyone,” she said. “This has been implemented with great quality of care to both smokers and non-smokers. We are hoping to accomplish a consensus among faculty, staff and students about a healthy workplace.”

For more information on Mizzou’s smoking policy, resources on how to quit, visit A complete map of where employees can smoke on campus is also available at the site.

— Megan Cassidy