The University of Maine at Presque Isle was recently recognized by the Maine Tobacco-Free College Network at the Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine with a Gold Award as part of its 2018 Gold Star Standards of Excellence recognition program. The program recognizes Maine institutions of higher education for their work to create and support tobacco-free environments and lifestyles. This is the fifth time the University has received a Gold Award.
The MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence’s Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine held an awards ceremony on March 29 to celebrate the efforts of Maine colleges and universities to address smoking and tobacco use on their campuses. UMPI was among 11 schools and two individual champions recognized for achievements in advancing campus smoke and tobacco-free policies, as well as prompting tobacco-free lifestyles for their communities.
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 were based on how many of the 10 best practice “Gold Star Standards” they met, such as a 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.
UMPI was among a short list of 11 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 Gold Level recipients included Central Maine Community College, Kaplan University, Kennebec Valley Community College, Maine Maritime Academy, Northern Maine Community College, Saint Joseph’s College, Treat Your Feet School of Reflexology, University of New England, University of Southern Maine, and York County Community College.
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.
In 2013, 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 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—an initiative of the Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine—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.