Why is Simmons going tobacco-free?
Simmons College is committed to promoting the health and wellness of our students, faculty, and staff by providing a living, working, and learning environment free of secondhand smoke. Simmons recognizes that tobacco use is the number one cause of premature death in the United States and by becoming tobacco free we will be joining about 1,100 other colleges and universities across the nation in becoming smoke or tobacco free. A tobacco free environment contributes to the learning environment by protecting the health of all members of the campus community from secondhand smoke exposure, as well as protecting our environment from toxic waste.
Will Simmons be the first college in Boston to go tobacco free?
No. Many institutions in Boston have already become tobacco and smoke free, including Boston University Medical Campus, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health, MassArt, MCPHS University, Northeastern, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Wheelock College. Simmons would be the last college in the Colleges of the Fenway not to be tobacco free with Emmanuel College announcing on April 14, 2014 that they will implement a tobacco free policy effective August 2014.
A complete list of tobacco and smoke free universities is available at Smoke Free Campuses
Do tobacco-free policies actually work?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, policies establishing tobacco free environments have shown to be very effective in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, as well as reducing daily cigarette consumption among smokers.
What does this actually mean for the Simmons community?
With this policy, the use of all smoking and tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, is prohibited on all campuses, buildings, parking garages, parking lots, vehicles, and outdoor areas owned and/or operated by Simmons College.
Will e-cigarettes be prohibited in the new policy?
Yes. The policy applies to electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes contain nicotine and pose health risks to users and to the public. In the best interest of the health and well being of all members of the Simmons community, electronic cigarettes are prohibited.
Will tobacco products that are not smoked, such as chewing tobacco, be prohibited by the policy?
Yes. The policy applies to all tobacco and smoking products.
Will the use of hookahs be prohibited on campus?
Yes. The policy does not permit the use of hookah to consume tobacco or tobacco products (including shisha) on campus.
Will there be any designated smoking areas on campus?
No. There are no designated smoking areas anywhere on campus. The policy does not apply to city-owned sidewalks and streets adjacent to campus. It is important to note that a new Boston ordinance prohibits smoking in all public parks.
The committee considered providing a "smoking hut" or a designated smoking area on campus, but concluded that smoking areas are not an effective way to eliminate the problem of secondhand smoke. According to experiences on other campuses, a policy that eliminates tobacco completely is easiest to communicate, implement and enforce and is the most reliable way to eliminate secondhand smoke.
How was the Simmons community involved in the decision to become Tobacco Free?
Work on a tobacco free initiative was started by SNHS students nearly two years ago and since then, awareness of this important topic has increased, the challenges of implementation have been identified and information about what many other colleges and universities are doing to support the health of their communities and how they have managed the transition to tobacco free has been gathered.
In fall 2013, the Simmons Tobacco Free Committee was formed to study the implications of a tobacco free policy at Simmons. The committee members represent many areas of Simmons and include: Judy Beal, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences(Chair), Steve Haag, former Assistant to the Dean CAS; Susan Antonelli, Assistant Dean of Student Life; Sean Collins, Director of Public Safety; Jess Samuels, Director of Resident Life; Sherri Ettinger, Director of the Counseling Center; Kay Petersen, Medical Director of Health Center; Kavita Jayachandran, Director of Benefits and Operations; Janet Fishstein, AVP Government Relations, Community Affairs and Campus Services; Alan Blume, President of the Faculty Senate; Allyson Irish , Senior Director, Communications, and SNHS/Nursing undergraduate students Allison Tremblay and Jessica Onnembro.
Some members of the committee visited a number of schools, including Salem State College, Northeastern University, Harvard Medical School and Wheelock College, to gain first-hand knowledge about how they implemented a tobacco free policy. Dean Beal worked with the other four Simmons deans to gain their endorsement of the policy.
SGA President Sandy Lor and her team administered a survey in spring 2014 to gather undergraduate student feedback on the proposed policy. Many students responded to the survey, and their responses were generally in favor of a tobacco free campus, though some concerns were raised. These concerns were discussed at a college-wide community meeting hosted by the Tobacco Free Committee on April 29, 2014. A FAQ document was developed to address these concerns and was circulated to the college community for feedback. Based on the feedback from the community, the committee made the recommendation to the President for a Tobacco Free Simmons policy.
Who made the decision to adopt this policy?
The decision was made by Simmons senior leadership in consultation with the Simmons Tobacco Free Committee while taking into consideration feedback and questions from the community.
When does the tobacco-free policy go into effect?
The policy will go into effect August 1, 2014, ahead of the start of the fall 2014 semester.
How will this policy be enforced?
We recognize the need to have a transition period to fully implement the Tobacco Free Policy. During the first year of implementation (August 1, 2014 - July 30, 2015), all members of the Simmons community will be encouraged to promote adherence to the new policy. We will remind students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the prohibition of all smoke and tobacco products on all Simmons property, including posting signage to indicate Simmons is tobacco free. We will provide support to the community to help everyone create a tobacco free environment. After the first year, there will be stricter enforcement of the policy.
What about the safety of students who choose to go off campus to smoke, particularly resident students at night?
Safety is a concern for all students, tobacco users and non-users, both on and off campus. Students who choose to go off campus to use tobacco products would not be at any greater risk than students who choose to go off campus for other reasons. All students should follow recommended personal safety precautions which can be found on the Simmons Public Safety website at Public Safety.
Resident students who choose to leave campus to smoke at night could exit the Residence Campus through the Simmons Hall gate. Smoking is not prohibited on the public sidewalk adjacent to Simmons Hall which is in close proximity to the secure entry point to the Residence Campus staffed by Public Safety.
What about employees of Simmons vendors who work on campus?
The tobacco free policy applies to everyone on campus, including vendor employees and all visitors. We will communicate the new policy to our vendor management teams in advance so that they could provide necessary support to their employees when Simmons transitions to a tobacco free campus.
Will visitors who smoke or use tobacco products, including family and friends of Simmons students, feel unwelcome on campus if Simmons adopts the Tobacco Free Policy?
The Simmons Tobacco Free Policy will be implemented and communicated in a respectful manner to ensure that everyone, including all visitors, continue to feel welcome on campus. As a community, we will help visitors understand the policy and assist with directions to nearby off-campus locations for anyone who might need to use tobacco products while visiting Simmons. As noted above, the goal of this policy is to promote the health and wellness of our students, faculty, and staff by providing a living, working, and learning environment free of secondhand smoke.
Do I have a right to use tobacco products?
Using tobacco is a personal choice, not a constitutional right. There is no constitutional right to smoke. Our tobacco-free policy does not take away one's right to use tobacco; instead it limits tobacco use on campus.
Will there be any smoking cessation services or support available for those who smoke?
Yes. Simmons College offers smoking cessation services to students, faculty, and staff. Students may visit the health center to receive important cessation information and access to smoking cessation products. Faculty and staff who are eligible for benefits have access to a number of resources via Talent and Human Capital Strategy and the medical plan provider.
With the addition of a new enhancement effective July 1, 2014, PPO plan members on Simmons's employee medical plan will pay nothing for Tier 1 and Tier 2 covered smoking cessation drugs and/or aids purchased from a covered retail pharmacy or from the covered mail service pharmacy. With this enhancement, members will also pay less for certain drugs commonly prescribed for chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or coronary artery disease (and depression associated with any of these conditions) in order to prevent or avoid developing more serious health problems. Nicotine gum will be sold in the bookstore.