U of I Expands Tobacco Ban To Include Smoke-Free Products

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The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been a smoke-free campus since 2014, but an expanded ban announced Wednesday now prohibits all smoke-free tobacco products, which health officials say are equally dangerous.   

 “All tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States," said Michele Guerra, director of Campus Wellbeing Services, "And smokeless tobacco use, like smoking, is a known cause of several cancers, heart disease, heart attack, stroke and many avoidable health issues.”   

The new rule, which takes effect next August, includes dissolvable forms of tobacco known as orbs and strips. Electronic cigarettes, vaping devices and chewing tobacco will also continue to be banned, including the popular Juul vaping device that packs high doses of addictive nicotine in a product resembling a USB.

Juul’s sales increased more than sevenfold from 2016 to 2017, according to a report released Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration. The company has come under fire over its marketing practices, which critics say target teenagers, leading the FDA to seize hundreds of documents from its California office this week.

Guerra said that the addition of other smoke-free tobacco products to the prohibited list shows the university administration recognizes the health risks the products pose, particularly for college students, who can be more susceptible to nicotine addiction. 

 “It might be something they do socially at a party, or perhaps as a stress management technique before a test," Guerra said. "But this often escalates to regular, or even daily use, by the age of 21.” Guerra said most tobacco users start before the age of 26, and that about a third of people who continue to use will die prematurely. 

The university’s ban extends to all indoor and outdoor areas of campus, including private vehicles. The rule applies to all students, staff and visitors.

In a campus-wide email Wednesday, U of I Chancellor Robert Jones said a tobacco-free campus task force will ensure the policy will be communicated clearly and implemented effectively. 

He added that the campus will continue to offer tobacco-cessation programs through McKinley Health Center and Campus Wellbeing Services. 

Story source: WILL