January 1, 2020 is the target date for Chaminade University’s new era as a tobacco and vape-free campus. “I guess you could think of this as a community-wide new years’ resolution to live a healthier campus life!” said Dr. Tracy Trevorrow, psychology professor and project lead of Chaminade’s Fresh Air program. Chaminade’s current smoking policy adheres to Hawaii law prohibiting any person under the age of 21 to possess or use tobacco and e-cigarettes in the designated “No Smoking” areas on campus, including classrooms, covered eating areas, office buildings and residence halls. Currently, there are assigned areas of the campus where smoking is permitted. The new policy will prohibit the use of all forms of tobacco and vaping devices on campus. In addition to students, faculty and staff, the new policy will also apply to campus visitors.
The new policy will be promoted with clear signage and gentle reminders. As noted by Dr. Abby Halston, psychology professor and co-director of the Fresh Air program, “we hope to make a change on campus through education, support and by creating a new norm—not from punishing those who smoke. For those interested in reducing or quitting cigarettes or vaping we are offering free on-campus counseling and referral services to any Chaminade community member.”
Dr. Trevorrow added, “While most Chaminade community members already appreciate the health and environmental benefits of having a smoking and vaping free campus, it is important that all our community groups are adequately informed and have input into how this transition takes place.”
As part of the Fresh Air program, two Chaminade undergraduate students, Natalie Burton, a junior biology major, and Shane Cobacha, a junior psychology major, were selected and trained to help educate stakeholder groups about smoking and vaping. They have engaged students and faculty at campus events, including recently organizing a cigarette butt cleanup for Earth Day. “It is important for Chaminade to be a smoke-free campus because it will make our community healthier,” Burton said. “There are so many impacts of smoking first and secondhand, and by eliminating smoking and vaping on campus we can all live a healthier lifestyle.”
The Fresh Air program is supported by a grant from the Truth Initiative, the largest nonprofit public health organization in America. The Truth Initiative has supported 171 colleges transitioning to be tobacco-free, involving 1.5 million students and 295,000 faculty and staff. Chaminade was awarded the $18,403 grant in July 2018, which is being used to advocate for, adopt and implement a tobacco-free and vape-free policy on campus. The Fresh Air program task force, made up of representatives from students, faculty and staff, drafted a tobacco and vaping use policy as well as made recommendations regarding enforcement.
Recent research from Chaminade’s Center for Medical Psychology, directed by Dr. Trevorrow, indicate that rates of smoking and vaping are increasing. After a steady nine-year decline, Chaminade undergraduates reported an increase of smoking from 3.2 percent to 5.2 percent in 2019. Rates of vaping are significantly higher among freshman students than other class ranks, around 12 percent, suggesting that incoming freshmen this year may also have high rates of e-cigarette use. Nursing professor Edna Magpantay-Monroe, a member of the Fresh Air task force, noted, “Clearly, cigarette smoking and vaping are health concerns that are not going away and by making our campus smoking and vaping free we reduce our students’ likelihood of developing dangerous addictions as well as exposure to second-hand smoke.” Chaminade will join over 2,000 other nationwide universities who have also become smoke- and vape-free campuses.