Do you dip? Vape? Don't do it at Mizzou. University announces ban on all tobacco use

COLUMBIA, Mo. • University of Missouri-Columbia administrators want tobacco users to empty their lips and power down their e-cigarettes when they step onto the state’s flagship campus.

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright on Tuesday announced a new policy banning all use of tobacco and e-cigarettes on campus. Administrators approved the ban on June 21, which was written by the Tobacco Free Mizzou Committee. The university applied for and won a grant from the American Cancer Society last year to help implement it.

“We have great resources on campus already for students, staff and faculty to promote a healthy lifestyle,” Cartwright said in a statement. “Becoming a tobacco-free campus will help us be a healthier place to work and to learn.”

MU began cracking down on on-campus smoking years ago, implementing a smoking ban in 2013.

The new tobacco-free policy is largely complaint-driven, and the “vast majority” of violations will be addressed through warnings, the university said in a news release. Violators will also be able to access literature to help them kick their habits.

“I think this is about an overall commitment to creating a campus environment that is healthy,” said Liz McCune, spokeswoman for the MU News Bureau. “If your peer is chewing tobacco, that’s more likely to influence you to start chewing tobacco. If you create a culture where this isn’t present ... that helps to change lifestyle choices.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a June report that as of November of last year, at least 2,082 U.S. colleges and universities had smoke-free policies on the books. Almost 84 percent of those schools (1,743) specifically banned all tobacco use, and nearly 80 percent of campuses specifically mentioned e-cigarettes in their policies.

In September 2012, as advocates launched the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative, 774 campuses had banned smoking and 562 had banned all tobacco use, according to the June CDC report.

The authors said 55 Missouri colleges and universities banned smoking as of November 2017, and 50 of those schools banned all tobacco use. Universities such as Washington University in St. Louis and Webster University in Webster Groves also ban all tobacco use. UMSL has been tobacco-free since 2012.

The researchers said that such bans reduce the “social acceptability” of tobacco use. The report noted that 99 percent of adult cigarette smokers first light up before they are 26, meaning campuses can play an important role in curbing tobacco use, the researchers said.