After years of planning and partnership between both students and the administration, The College of Idaho will begin its new smoke-free policy starting this fall, eliminating tobacco usage completely from its campus.
In an effort to improve the health of the campus at large, the College has worked toward the elimination of tobacco use on campus for several years, taking small steps in policy to reduce overall tobacco usage before its removal from campus altogether, including cigarettes, vaping and smokeless tobacco.
“I think it makes more sense as a progressive liberal arts school for us to go completely smoke free,” said Amanda DiDio, President of the Associated Students of the College of Idaho and one of the driving forces behind the policy change. “Overall, I think this is a pretty positive transition, and I think it will be interesting in the next couple of years to see how the culture changes from here.”
There was a surprise byproduct during the two-year legislative process to eventually arrive at a smoke-free campus: some of the opponents of the earlier resolutions were already adopting the goals of reduced smoking. “I found out that a lot of them were actually already starting to quit after the previous discussions, which I thought was really cool,” DiDio said.
While the students of the ASCI worked on their resolution, members of the C of I administration had been seeking policy changes on its own. C of I Health Services Director Barbie Vander Boegh had long been an advocate of a smoke-free campus, citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed individuals who took to smoking in their late teens and early 20s were most likely to continue the habit, cutting their average life spans by about 20 years when compared to non-smokers.
“That was a concern for me,” Vander Boegh said. “We are taking the time to invest in these students and they invest in us to make their lives better, and yet we’re saying it’s okay to smoke? Why can’t they have a full life of gratified existence?”
Vander Boegh and other members of the C of I staff had been working with C of I President Charlotte Borst on a timeline to take action when they learned the ASCI had already been working on a resolution addressing the issue.
“By the time we also found out the student council was working on our same agenda, it made sense for us to dovetail with each other,” Vander Boegh said.
Working together with DiDio and the ASCI, as well as Idaho’s Project Filter and Southwest District Health, the College began to offer smoking cessation classes to students, staff and faculty in an effort to ease the transition away from smoking areas and toward a smoke-free environment. Project Filter is providing the College with signage to be placed on each of the campus’ directional signs to reflect the campus as a smoke-free zone.
“I think this has been a very smooth transition, which is what the senate wanted,” DiDio said. “We didn’t want it to just be an abrupt switch. I’m glad that the College was willing to provide programs and access to resources to help people quit if they wanted. They helped make it clear that the transition was coming, and they wanted to help us prepare for it.”
Vander Boegh acknowledged it can be difficult to stop smoking, but said support will be available through her office for anyone on campus seeking to begin their journey toward quitting.
“We realize that this isn’t something that people can just stop right away,” Vander Boegh said. “It takes time and dedication. But hopefully as we all become more wellness aware, we can start taking a proactive approach to life and health.”
For more information on quitting smoking, visit www.projectfilter.org.
The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.