UCLA went completely tobacco-free today, becoming the first UC campus to do so and one of the largest of more than 1,000 campuses nationwide that are making smoke- or tobacco-free environments the new normal.
The Westwood campus marked the launch of the tobacco-free policy with a mid-day celebration in Bruin Plaza. The event offered the campus community details about UCLA resources that would help people quit tobacco, such as free counseling and free two-week supplies of nicotine patches donated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The free California Smokers Helpline, 1-800-No-Butts, also gave out information. Learn more about these resources and how Bruins are reacting to the plan in this earlier article, or get more information on UCLA’s Tobacco-Free website.
UC President Mark Yudof called last year for all 10 UC campuses to go tobacco-free by 2014. The policy is expected to save lives by reducing tobacco-related deaths and diseases. Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Research has shown that people are more likely to quit in a tobacco-free environment.
The policy kicked in on Earth Day, highlighting how tobacco use pollutes not only lungs but also the planet. Cigarette butts account for a third of all litter in California — a UCLA student group from the Education for Sustainable Living Program collected nearly 10,000 cigarette butts during a campus clean-up over the weekend.
The new policy bars the use of cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and all other tobacco products, as well as electronic cigarettes, indoors or outdoors on UCLA's campus and at sites owned or fully leased by the university.
A 2010 survey across eight UC campuses found that approximately 8 percent of undergraduates over the age of 18 had used tobacco products during the previous month. About 12 percent of California adults use tobacco, according to a report by the California Department of Public Health.
UCLA's Tobacco-Free Steering Committee recommended the policy and developed the plan with feedback from the Bruin community. "Our policy is that you don't have to quit — you just can't smoke here," said UCLA nursing professor Linda Sarna, chair of the Tobacco-Free Steering Committee and an oncology nurse. "But most smokers do want to quit, and research shows that a smoke-free environment increases quit attempts. Even people who didn't plan to quit get annoyed at the inconvenience and decide to try. We'll provide resources to help."