Ross University School of Medicine’s Tobacco-free campus policy

Effective January 1, 2013, the Dominica Campus of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) is tobacco-free. The use of any tobacco products is prohibited in university buildings and on all university grounds, including parking areas, sidewalks, walkways, and university owned or leased buildings. The full text of the policy including the definition for tobacco products is available in the student handbook, the university’s website, and shared “X” and “G” drives.

This policy is part of RUSM’s commitment to create a healthy and sustainable environment for all members of the campus community. The policy is designed to be positive and health directed. Community members noticing violations of the policy should endeavor to be non-confrontational and respectful to tobacco users when communicating the policy. Likewise, tobacco users are expected to adhere to the policy and be respectful to ex-tobacco users and non-tobacco users. Enforcement of the policy will be achieved primarily through education, awareness, and cooperation.

Facts about tobacco use

The 2010 Surgeon General’s Report, “How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease” concludes there is no safe level of tobacco smoke exposure. “Any exposure to tobacco smoke - even an occasional cigarette or secondhand smoke - is harmful.” In addition, the American College Health Association’s 2009 position statement, “Tobacco on College and University Campuses”, strongly advocates for campus-wide tobacco-free environments.

According to recent research, tobacco-free policies can have a significant, positive influence in reducing the adverse impacts of tobacco use, including:

  • A decrease in smoking initiation among young adults
  • A decrease in established smoking
  • An increase in probability of smoking cessation
  • Promoting a tobacco-free norm, which can influence adult smoking behavior
  • Leading to less smoking in the workplace
  • Employees that are almost twice as likely to stop using tobacco as those who work where tobacco use is allowed

We are enthusiastic about moving toward a healthier environment for those who work, study, and visit RUSM. Even so, we are mindful of community members who may be personally challenged by this policy. We are committed to help students and employees who want to quit. Interested individuals may want to contact RUSM’s Tobacco Intervention Program at (767) 255-6553 to arrange a confidential appointment. You may also visit the resources listed below for further information on quitting or reducing tobacco use.

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Benefits of a Tobacco-Free Campus

The benefits of a Tobacco-free Campus include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased absenteeism
  • Lower costs of medical expenses associated with tobacco use
  • Lower consumption rates
  • Improved success in long-range tobacco cessation
  • Increased cost savings for employers, including costs associated with the risk of property damage, fire, maintenance, and employee benefits

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Risks of Tobacco Use

  • Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States
  • Each year in the U.S. alone, approximately 440,000 people die of tobacco-related illness
  • More than 8.6 million Americans currently suffer from at least one serious illness caused by tobacco use
  • All tobacco products are harmful. Smokeless tobacco (e.g., chewing tobacco and snuff) is addictive, contains dozens of cancer-causing agents, and may cause oral cancer and other diseases
  • Secondhand smoke is a known human carcinogen (i.e., cancer-causing agent); it contains more than 50 chemicals that can cause cancer. Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in people who have never smoked themselves
  • Secondhand smoke causes acute respiratory effects. Even brief exposure can trigger respiratory symptoms including cough, phlegm, wheezing, and breathlessness, and can trigger an asthma attack in children with asthma

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.

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Communication Tools

Communication is a key strategy in implementing this policy and educating the community about what it means to be a tobacco-free campus. The below toolkits are designed to answer questions, guide conversations, and provide additional resources for communicating the Tobacco-free policy.

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Tobacco Cessation Resources

Ross University School of Medicine supports its employees and students who want to quit using tobacco products. Any community member wanting additional information may contact the RUSM’s Tobacco Intervention Program (TIP) at (767) 255-6553 to arrange a confidential consultation. For employees and students who do not want to quit but would like additional help to feel more comfortable at work or during class, nicotine replacement therapy may be purchased in local pharmacies.

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Other Resources: