Macalester College in St. Paul celebrates going tobacco-free

Macalester College in Saint Paul implemented a comprehensive 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy on Jan. 1. The policy comes after years of considering how best to address tobacco use on campus, a process that involved faculty, staff, students and community partners. Macalester’s policy prohibits the use of tobacco in any form, including electronic cigarettes, anywhere on campus. It also provides for accessible cessation resources for the campus community.

Macalester joins more than 50 other campuses in Minnesota in adopting a tobacco-free policy, including many nearby post-secondary institutions. St. Kate’s, St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities have all implemented tobacco-free policies for their campuses.

While adult tobacco use in Minnesota continues to tick downward, tobacco is still a problem on many college campuses. The use rate among 18-24 year-olds has been the highest for any age group in the state. This is largely because the tobacco industry targets young adults with advertising, promotions and new products, creating a cohort of new, life-long tobacco users. New data from the 2014 Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey showed a decrease from 21.8 percent to 15.3 percent in 2014, the lowest for this age group since the survey began.

The goal of Macalester’s tobacco-free campus is to improve the health outcomes for all students, faculty, and staff, including those who live and work near smokers. Tobacco-free campus policies are proven to support those tobacco users who would like to quit, prevent initiation among non-tobacco users, reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and decrease costly and harmful tobacco litter. Nationwide, there are at least 1,477 smoke free campuses.