El Paso, TX (UTEP) — The University of Texas at El Paso is now a tobacco-free campus. The new policy is a move to create a more healthful environment for those who work, study and visit the campus.
“UTEP is proud to join other universities across Texas and the nation who made their campuses tobacco-free,” said Robert Moss, assistant vice president for environmental health and safety at UTEP. “We anticipate that all will embrace this policy implementation as a positive move for our UTEP community and campus.”
The new policy prohibits use of any tobacco products in University buildings and on all property and grounds owned or controlled by the University, including parking areas, sidewalks, walkways, parking structures, event venues and all other University owned or leased properties.
The use of tobacco products includes but is not limited to cigarettes, cigars, electronic cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco pipes, water pips (hookah), bidis and kreteks.
Designated smoking areas will no longer be available for guests at events in the Don Haskins Center, Sun Bowl Stadium, UTEP Dinner Theatre and other campus venues.
Health and environmental implications were considered during the development of the policy to create an air of respect for the environment and community.
“A handful of schools in the Texas system have already implemented these policies while others are encouraged to do so within the coming year or two,” said Theodore Cooper, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, who has done extensive research on the effects of smoking. He added that 1,182 universities nationwide are smoke-free and 811 are tobacco-free.
Data from a survey conducted in 2013 by Cooper and his colleagues found that a majority of participants (73.3 percent) agreed that colleges should regulate tobacco use on campus. More than 3,000 participants made up of students, faculty and staff were surveyed.
“The bottom line is that certainly the majority of students, staff and faculty agreed that UTEP should implement either a smoke- or tobacco-free policy,” Cooper said.
The initiative was established with the help of grants from the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation (PDNHF), A Smoke-Free Paso del Norte and Stoplite.
The new policy will be self-enforced.
“UTEP intends to implement this policy through education, awareness, and a spirit of cooperation and respect for each other and our University,” Moss said. “Much can be accomplished through respect, with polite reminders to members of the University community and guests that we are a tobacco-free campus.”
Cessation programs will be available to support students, faculty and staff who wish to stop smoking. Cessation resources can be found at tobaccofree.utep.edu  or setyourdate.org.