The University of Maine at Presque Isle was recently recognized by the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence’s Breath Easy Initiative. The campus received a Gold Award as part of its 2019 Gold Star Standards of Excellence (GSSE) recognition program, and Linda Mastro, the Director of the Health Center at UMPI and Northern Maine Community College, was named the recipient of a 2019 GSSE Individual Gold Star Award.
The MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence’s Breathe Easy Initiative held an awards ceremony this summer to recognize Maine organizations for implementing policies, procedures, and treatment strategies to prohibit tobacco use on campus and to support students and staff in being tobacco-free. UMPI was among 18 organizations recognized for achievements in advancing campus smoke and tobacco-free policies, as well as prompting tobacco-free lifestyles for their communities.
All behavioral health and higher education organizations from across the state were invited to participate in the Gold Star Standards of Excellence program. Award levels were based on how many of the 10 evidenced based standards, “Gold Star Standards,” they met, such as having a tobacco-free campus policy, providing referrals to tobacco treatment, promoting smoke-free lodging options to visitors, and divesting from tobacco industry stock.
UMPI was among a short list of eight universities across the state to meet all 10 Gold Star Standards. Other Gold Level recipients included Central Maine Community College, Northern Maine Community College, Saint Joseph’s College, University of Maine (Orono), University of New England, University of Southern Maine, and York County Community College.
Also during the event, Linda Mastro was honored with an Individual Gold Star Award for going “above and beyond” to champion and support the smoke and tobacco-free campus policy at both NMCC and UMPI. She was nominated by Dawn Roberts and Jo-Ellen Kelley of the Aroostook County Action Program.
“Linda has been involved with college health for 25 years with a passion for reducing tobacco initiation and bringing tobacco prevention to the forefront at the college level,” the women wrote in their nomination letter. “For the past 20 years, she has been involved with Maine College Health and is currently the President of the Board for this organization. Linda is on the Aroostook County District Health Council and served 5 years on the board of the American Cancer Society in Presque Isle. Linda has applied for the GSSE and been awarded the GSSE for both colleges since its inception in 2011. Linda has attended many trainings through the Center of Tobacco Independence (CTI) and many of the Annual Tobacco Conferences to ensure she is up-to-date on tobacco laws, prevention and treatment.”
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Maine and the U.S. According to the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence, creating tobacco-free social norms by adopting strong policy language, educating about the harmful effects of use and exposure, and providing support in quitting will help reduce the number of young adults that become daily tobacco users.
Six years ago, UMPI announced its major effort to provide a healthy and productive work and learning environment for students, employees and visitors by moving to a Tobacco-Free Campus. UMPI’s Tobacco-Free Campus Policy went into effect on June 1, 2013.
The Breathe Easy initiative at the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence is dedicated to reducing exposure to secondhand smoke through the promotion of strong voluntary policies that lead to reduced tobacco use and increased tobacco-free living throughout Maine. The program is funded by Maine Prevention Services, an initiative through the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention working across the state to impact tobacco, substance use, and obesity. For more information, visit www.BreatheEasyMaine.org/GSSE.