The University of Maine at Presque Isle and Northern Maine Community College were among the 10 Maine schools and three individual champions recognized recently for achievements in advancing their campus smoke and tobacco-free policies, as well as prompting tobacco-free lifestyles for their communities.
The MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence’s Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine held an awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 28, to celebrate the efforts of Maine colleges and universities to address smoking and tobacco use on their campuses. The event featured the announcement of the 2017 Maine Tobacco-Free College Network’s Gold Star Standards of Excellence recognition program award winners.
“Campus policies go a long way in supporting a healthy, smoke-free social norm for students and the campus community,” Dawn Roberts, Community Education Specialist for Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP), said.
UMPI and NMCC were recognized for meeting the Gold Level in the 2017 Gold Star Standards of Excellence Program for their efforts to prohibit smoking and tobacco use on campus. All Maine colleges and universities were encouraged to apply for recognition; institutions that met at least six of ten Gold Star Standards were recognized with a plaque. Award levels are based on best practice criteria such as a smoke and 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.
“We are so proud that we were able to help both of our area colleges to achieve Gold Level policies on their campuses,” Jo-Ellen Kelley, Community Education Specialist for ACAP, said.
The awards ceremony provided an opportunity for schools to come together to share successes and challenges of their efforts to create smoke and tobacco-free campus environments 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 campus.
“Both schools have not had a problem implementing the tobacco-free policies,” Linda Mastro, CRNP-Director of Health Services for both UMPI and NMCC, said. “I think with all the work being done around policy in the state, students just expect that smoking of any kind is not allowed on the college campus.”
For more information and free help with Tobacco-Free policies and how to implement change, call Dawn Roberts or Jo-Ellen Kelley, ACAP Community Education Specialists, at 764-3721 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. ACAP tobacco prevention staff work under a grant program from the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence. The program is funded under Maine Prevention Services.