Rio Grande – The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College work hard toward creating a healthy learning environment for students, faculty and staff. As part of this initiative, all Rio campuses are now completely tobacco-free. Rio’s Wellness Committee approved the new policy in late July to be put into place by the upcoming fall semester. Dean of the College of Professional & Technical Studies and Chair of the Wellness Committee, Donna Mitchell, said the policy will impact the campuses by minimizing risks of secondhand smoke and create an initiative for students to lead healthier lifestyles.
“Secondhand smoke can be as dangerous, or even more dangerous than primary smoke. We know smoking can cause health issues such as lung cancer and now studies are linking it to bladder cancer and a variety of other health concerns,” Mitchell said.
Rio began moving toward this initiative during the 2015-2016 school year by creating designated smoking areas on campuses, with tobacco products prohibited outside these areas. With this transition period over, President Michelle Johnston said this plan will continue to move Rio forward in positive ways.
“Our mission at Rio is to create a high-quality, learning-centered environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Johnston said. “Tobacco-free campuses will help us strive toward that goal by creating a healthier and safer environment for everyone.”
The new policy defines smoking as burning tobacco or any other material in any type of smoking equipment, including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. The policy defines alternative nicotine-derived products as any product or device that consists of or contains nicotine ingested by chewing, smoking, absorbing, dissolving, or inhaling and any product intended to mimic tobacco products, contain tobacco flavoring, or deliver nicotine other than for the purpose of ending product usage.