The University of Maine at Presque Isle was recently recognized by the Maine Tobacco-Free College Network with a Silver Award as part of its Gold Star Standards of Excellence Recognition Program. The program celebrates the efforts of Maine institutions of higher education to address tobacco use on their campuses.
The Maine Tobacco-Free College Network, which is leading Maine's efforts to strengthen campus tobacco policies and reduce tobacco use on college campuses, held a celebration in Bangor on Nov. 15 during the Great American Smokeout to highlight the efforts of its 2012 award winners. Linda Mastro, Director of UMPI's Health Center, accepted the award on behalf of the University.
UMPI was among a short list of nine universities across the state to be recognized for their achievements in advancing their campus tobacco-free policies and promoting tobacco-free lifestyles for their communities. Other campuses included Kennebec Valley Community College, the University of Maine in Orono, University of Maine Hutchinson Center, University of Southern Maine, Northern Maine Community College, Unity College, University of New England, and the University of Maine at Machias. Two campus champions were recognized as 2012 Gold Star Honorees. They were: Bruce Davis at KVCC and the USM Tobacco Policy Committee.
All Maine institutions of higher education, including colleges, universities, and technical schools were invited to participate in the Gold Star Standards of Excellence program. Award levels are based on best practice criteria such as tobacco-free campus policy, tobacco treatment information availability for students, faculty and staff, prohibiting tobacco product distribution on campus, and divestment of all tobacco investments.
"Colleges and universities seek to create a healthy and safe environment to learn, live and work. Addressing tobacco use on campus is an example of this commitment and benefits students, faculty, staff and visitors. We are pleased to be able to recognize the achievements of these schools through the Gold Star Standards of Excellence program," said Sarah Mayberry of the Maine Tobacco-Free College Network.
The awards ceremony provided an opportunity for each school to share successes and challenges of their efforts to create a tobacco-free campus environment and promote tobacco-free lifestyles. While many acknowledged challenges faced when first adopting new campus policies and initiatives, all shared that addressing tobacco use on campus is an important health and environmental strategy for their schools.
According to its website, the Maine Tobacco-Free College Network is dedicated to providing Maine post-secondary learning institutions with the information and resources needed to make campuses smoke- and/or tobacco-free. The network formed in February 2002 as an outgrowth of collaboration between the University of Southern Maine, Healthy Maine Partnerships, Communities Promoting Health, and Healthy Portland.
For more information about the Maine Tobacco-Free College Network, visit its website at www.mainetobaccofreecollegenetwork.org.