By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University is fired up for the start of the school year, but where there’s fire there soon won’t be smoke — GCU is going smoke-free.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, smoking and any other tobacco use will not be allowed anywhere on campus property or in University-owned vehicles. That includes the main campus and the Peoria, Tempe, 27th Avenue and Camelwest complexes.
The decision reflects a growing trend among universities to ban tobacco use on campus. According to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, a lobbying organization dedicated to taking on the tobacco industry at all levels of government, protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke and preventing tobacco addiction among youth, 1,372 U.S. colleges are smoke-free.
GCU’s ban will extend to all forms of tobacco use, include e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
“It’s just one of those things where we can have a long-term impact on people’s lives by trying to prevent the use of something that can be so devastating,” said Brian Mueller, GCU’s president and CEO. “You look at what has happened just recently with athletes like Tony Gwynn (who died of cancer at age 54), and Curt Schilling, who is fighting cancer and says he can’t even taste his food anymore, and it tells me that anyone who has anything to do with young people is obligated to discourage this.”
Connie Colbert, director of the GCU Health and Wellness Center, noted that it’s typical of college students to try new things in their new environment and not think about the repercussions. Colbert also is concerned about helping staff, too, and noted that avoiding second-hand smoke is another reason behind the University's decision.
“I think it’s a great step in the right direction,” she said. “It’s all about the total wellness of the community. GCU is very involved in spiritual wellness but is focusing on physical wellness as well.”
The University is partnering with CIGNA Healthcare to enroll employees in smoking-cessation programs free of charge. Arizona Ashline also provides free smoking-cessation services. Specific information about these programs is available here or by emailing [email protected].
Contact Rick Vacek at 639.8203 or [email protected]