The University of Maine at Presque Isle was recently recognized by the Maine Tobacco-Free College Network with a Gold 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. This is the second time the University has received a Gold Award.
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 Augusta on March 18 to highlight the efforts of its 2015 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 12 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 Gold Level recipients Kaplan University, Kennebec Valley Community College, Northern Maine Community College, University of Maine, University of New England, and University of Southern Maine, and Silver Level recipients Central Maine Community College, Saint Joseph’s College, Unity College, University of Maine at Farmington, and University of Maine at Machias.
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.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of death and disease in the U.S. A 2012 report of the U.S. Surgeon General, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, states that 99% of smokers begin before the age of 26. According to the Maine Tobacco-Free College Network, creating a tobacco-free norm 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.
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—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 atwww.mainetobaccofreecollegenetwork.org.