UO becomes a smoke- and tobacco-free university Sept. 1

EUGENE, Ore. -- (Aug. 30, 2012) --The University of Oregon’s annual cigarette butt clean-up events may be history after the university becomes smoke and tobacco free on Sept. 1, 2012.

The new change, made official by Oregon Administrative Rule 571-050-0005, bans the use of all tobacco products on property owned or controlled by the UO, including its primary campus footprint in Eugene, the UO in Portland at the White Stag Block, the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston and the Pine Mountain Observatory near Bend. The change applies to buildings, athletic and entertainment facilities (both indoor and outdoor), sidewalks, roadways, parking lots and grounds. 

In the fall of 2010, the UO was the first Pac-12 institution to announce intentions to become a smoke- and tobacco-free university.  The decision was made to reduce the risks of second-hand smoke exposure and to provide a healthier environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

“The University of Oregon is now a healthier campus,” said UO President Michael Gottfredson. "I appreciate the leadership of the governor, and the hard work of our students and other campus and community members in getting us to this day."

For the past two years, health and wellness professionals on campus have prepared for the transition with education campaigns and cessation support for users of tobacco products. The UO provided 167 students with cessation products in the past year from the University Health Center.  In addition, faculty and staff were provided with support if they wished to stop using tobacco products. Support included free nicotine replacement products and cessation counseling, and will continue as the ban goes into effect.

“As I recently affirmed with the decision for all state facilities to become smoke free, tobacco use is an important public health issue in Oregon,” said Gov. John Kitzhaber.  “I’m pleased that the University of Oregon is making important changes to make a healthier environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

Beginning Sept. 1, exterior signage will be updated to reflect the new policy, information will be distributed campus wide, including several versions in non-English languages, and a partnership with Lane Transit District will begin to educate mass transit patrons about the change. Sept. 1 is the first home football game at Autzen Stadium and is an opportunity to inform fans about the change that impacts athletics venues as well.

Led by the University Health Centerand the recently launched Healthy Oregon, the goal for the first year is to provide education and awareness about the important change to encourage compliance with the new policy.  Enforcement may include a $30 fine for repeated violation of the policy. 

“Tobacco use is the number one preventable killer of Oregonians, causing approximately 25 percent of all deaths in our state,” said Dr. Patrick F. Luedtke, senior public health officer and medical director at the Community & Behavioral Health clinics of Lane County’s Department of Health and Human Services. “The University of Oregon’s decision to go tobacco free is a bold and timely step that numerous studies and real world experience shows will decrease lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory illnesses such as asthma and lung infections in staff, students and the community.”

In addition to the public health benefits of becoming smoke and tobacco free, the change will mean less litter on campus. Each year, the University Health Center staff and peer health educators volunteer for cigarette butt clean-up efforts across the 295-acre campus and collect approximately 7,000 butts in a day, and more than 18,000 each year.

“As a graduate of the University of Oregon, I am proud of the university and its students, faculty and staff for sending an important message about the value of cleaner air for all and the support in place to help individuals make healthy choices," said Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

For more information, visit http://tobaccofree.uoregon.edu or call the Oregon Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669), www.quitnow.net/oregon/.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

MEDIA CONTACT:Julie Brown, UO media relations, 541-346-3185, julbrown@uoregon.edu

SOURCES:Paula Staight, director, UO Health Promotion, 541-346-2728; and Marci Torres, director, UO HealthyOregon, 541-346-8817.

Note: The University of Oregon is equipped with an on-campus television studio with satellite uplink capacity, and a radio studio with an ISDN phone line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.