On Oct. 4, students received an extra edition to their daily Rowan announcer email containing a major announcement: the university would no longer allow tobacco products on campus.
The announcer was sent to the entire student body, informing them that, “As part of our continued commitment to maintaining healthy and safe environments for all, we are pleased to inform you that all of Rowan University’s campuses will be smoke free beginning in January.”
This smoke-free initiative, called “Breathe Easy” was passed by the University Senate and Student Government Association (SGA) last spring and will prohibit smoking and the use of any tobacco-like products on all of Rowan University’s properties by both staff and students, including vapes, e-cigarettes, and dissolvable and smoke-free tobacco.
According to Provost Anthony Lowman, these rules were put into place to protect the health and safety of all Rowan students and faculty, including those who are susceptible to the effects of secondhand smoke.
“There are proven health impacts of smoking on not just the people that are smoking, but the people who are surrounded by it,” Lowman said, “People who choose not to smoke have the right to be in an environment where the air is clear and they don’t have to breathe in the smoke’s byproducts.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 500,000 people die prematurely each year in the United States from smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke combined. The CDC also states that research shows e-cigarettes are unsafe for young people to use as they contain many harmful chemicals along with addictive substances like nicotine. This research was also cited in the smoke-free announcement sent out last week.
While Glassboro is home to Rowan’s main campus, it is the last one to pass regulations making it smoke-free. Both branch campuses in Stratford and Camden already set bans on tobacco products. Even though the Breathe Easy policies will forbid the use of these products entirely, Director of the Wellness Center Scott Woodside wants to make it clear that these new rules are meant to kick start a behavioral change for the community at Rowan.
“It is not meant to be disciplinarian in nature and we [the Wellness Center] know it is an initiative that helps others and themselves,” Woodside said, “the rules are really not meant to be punitive. It’s meant to help people get on the right track.”
For Rowan students and staff who are struggling with addiction and looking for help, the Wellness Center has partnered with Inspira Health to build the Quit Center, a grant-funded program that provides recipients with free cessation counseling and products to help them quit smoking or vaping. There are also support groups on campus that allow addicts to talk with one another.
With Breathe Easy set to be the new reality at the start of next year, Woodside is looking forward to seeing the smoke-free initiative be put into practice.
“We [Rowan University] are here to make a positive change and that’s what this policy is all about,” Woodside said.
For more information about addiction resources and helplines, visit the Wellness Center’s website or go.rowan.edu/breatheeasy.
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