It wasn’t long ago when a cloud of smoke greeted you anytime you walked out of class. But throughout the past few years, this trend has drastically changed. Thanks to the efforts of the Breathe Freely campaign, the Coral Gables campus has been declared smoke-free and now provides an environment that is healthier for all.
But have we eradicated smoking completely? Quite simply, no. Smoking has now retreated to a few areas on campus, but we recognize its impact on our campus community as a whole.
As such, the Healthy Cane Network, a team of UM departments dedicated to health and wellness on campus, is implementing more than twenty different tobacco prevention initiatives and activities at UM in this semester alone.
Departments like Student Health Services, Wellness and Recreation (Herbert Wellness Center), the Dean of Students Office (PIER 21) and Housing and Residential Life consistently collaborate to develop programs designed to inform the campus about the smoke-free policy, as well as highlight quit resources available on campus. The School of Nursing and Health Studies and the Area Health Education Center, members of the Healthy Cane Network, also provide quit resources to the UM community.
In addition to campus communication efforts including digital signage, table tents, yard signs, light pole banners, e-newsletters and Truth Campaign videos, HCN departments come together to host events like the Great American Smokeout and campus-wide cigarette butt pick-ups. These events aim to raise awareness of the smoke-free policy and encourage the entire campus community to get involved in the smoke-free initiative.
But our efforts are not solely focused on informing the campus community of the smoke-free policy. HCN departments offer resources designed to help smokers kick the habit. Classes like BeSmokeFree Quit Now, offered at the Herbert Wellness Center, and counseling available at the Student Health Center are free resources available to students looking to quit.
Is completely eliminating smoking on campus an easy task? Absolutely not. We all need to do our part. If you walk past a smoker, ask them to stop. It is not just the responsibility of Student Affairs or Human Resources staff and administrators to do so. We have absolutely done our best, but we need the entire community to be committed and help in this effort.
We are not going to see results overnight, and that is okay. Change takes time, but in the long run, we know it will be worth it.
Dr. Patricia Whitely is the vice president for student affairs at the University of Miami.
Scott Levin is the executive director for the department of wellness and recreation.