On June 1, the University of Rhode Island (URI) became the latest to join a nationwide movement that prohibits smoking in all residence halls, academic and office buildings, and forbids the sale of tobacco products on campus.
"The changes that we [are introducing] here may be the first step towards helping smokers quit smoking or discouraging new ones from starting," says URI President Robert L. Carothers.
The smoke-free initiative began in 1998, among universities such as Harvard and Dartmouth.
The Journal of American College Health (Vol. 49, No. 5) reports that 81 percent of American universities prohibit smoking in public areas and 21 percent prohibit smoking in resident halls. According to a study released by the Harvard School of Public Health in March, prohibiting smoking in residence halls is the most effective method for preventing incoming students from smoking.
URI says that the new policies are the result of a recent survey estimating that 28 percent of 18- to 24-year-old college students smoke. Aside from health risks, such as cancer, the university reports that from 1993 to 1997, 187 fires occurred in American dormitories as a result of cigarettes.
For more information, go to the University of Rhode Island's Smokefree Web site: www.uri.edu/smokefree.