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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Oct. 23, 2013) – As the University of Central Missouri prepares to implement its new Use of Tobacco Policy Jan. 1, 2014, a team of university students will play a crucial role in helping the student body smoothly transition to the policy.
The Tobacco-Free Ambassadors Student Organization was established this fall within UCM’s Office of Violence and Substance Abuse Prevention, and currently has 11student members. Their charge is to help educate students about the Tobacco Use Policy approved by the university’s Board of Governors in fall 2012.
“We recruited students at the campus involvement fair,” said Keith Jones, a VSAP graduate assistant who is working with the organization. “Their job is mostly to spread the word about the tobacco policy and talk to student groups across the board.”
Members of the Tobacco-Free Ambassadors Student Organization are, left to right, DeAnn Warren, senior from Raytown; Jordan Kingensmith, freshman from Imperial; Dakota Young, freshman from Sedalia; Haylee Kuster, freshman from Bunceton; Chris Moody, sophomore from Kansas City; and Shaquila Parrish, sophomore from Blue Springs.
Using peer education skills, the Tobacco-Free Ambassadors will help inform the student body about the policy through speaking opportunities and conversations with individual campus members both prior to and after the implementation of the new policy. They will also provide a valuable data gathering function, according to Janice Putnam, professor of nursing.
“We’ve identified 18 different spots where people who smoke often gather,” she said. “We have TFAs assigned to observe these areas once a week. This research is replicating an American Journal of College Health study measuring the pre- and post-impact of the tobacco policy.”
“When they are out gathering data, they are not evangelizing,” Jones added. “What they do is educate. They are not an enforcement group.”
He stressed that although the student group’s intention is not to get people to quit using tobacco products, members are able to provide information about cessation opportunities available at UCM to anyone who may be considering this step. They will create videos, use social media, and distribute cards with information about the new policy and cessation opportunities.
Chris Moody, a sophomore graphic design and marketing student from Kansas City, is serving as president of Tobacco-Free Ambassadors. He said he is proud to be associated with an organization that is helping UCM to be consistent with a growing national trend at colleges and universities.
“The Tobacco-Free Ambassadors simply want to create a more respectful and clean environment for the students, faculty, staff, and visitors at UCM,” Moody said. “The tobacco-free initiative is one that is starting to grow across Missouri and the United States. To know that we are accomplishing something like this here in Warrensburg really sends the message that we are a forward-thinking school. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to be a part of this and help UCM accomplish its goals.”
The Tobacco Use Policy was developed by an 11-member campus committee that was convened in fall 2011 at the request of UCM President Charles Ambrose. He charged members with reviewing the current tobacco policy, and making recommendations about any changes that should be made. After months of research, reaching out to campus constituents, seeking information about best practices in higher education, and gaining input and support from groups such as the Strategic Leadership Team and Student Government Association, the committee submitted a proposed policy that included all forms of tobacco use.
The new policy approved by the Board of Governors prohibits on all UCM campuses use of all tobacco products and nicotine delivery methods not approved by the FDA, including traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, pipes, cigars, hookah/ water pipes and all other forms of smoke-generating products, and smokeless tobacco such as chewing tobacco, snus and snuff. With the new policy, UCM becomes one of more than 700 institutions of higher education nationwide that have adopted tobacco-free policies.
“As a student I think that this is a great thing for everyone,” Moody said about the new policy. “The majority of students here at UCM don't smoke; even more don't use smokeless tobacco. I think other students are going to really appreciate knowing that their campus is tobacco free.”