By CONNOR MURPHY –
About 60 percent of students want to outlaw smoking of every kind on William Paterson’s campus, according to the professor who conducted the survey.
Dr. Alex Kecojevic of the Department of Public Health and three of his student are involved in an initiative to make WPU completely green and tobacco free.
Greener living means taking care of the environment by making friendly and ecologically responsible decisions, such as choosing to recycle or prevent air pollution, according to EPA.gov.
In 2015, about 15 of every 100 US adults aged 18 years or older (15.1 percent) smoked cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The total economic cost of smoking in the U.S. is estimated at more than $300 billion a year, according to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. This includes nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity due to premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke.
“There is a growing initiative among university campuses across the nation, a growing trend to have tobacco-free policies,” said Kecojevic. “This initiative is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, (and) allows us to work on this policy (at) William Paterson.”
This initiative has been going on since September of last year.
“We established a taskforce to lead this initiative to fulfillment, we also conducted a number of surveys, environmental scans and informative interviews,” said Kecojevic. “We are also working on writing a policy to put forward to the university administration.”
Reem Shair, a student at WPU and student of Kecojevic’s, went into further detail on the research.
“One of the methods we used was the survey, where it got sent to all the students, faculty and staff, and we got a pretty good response rate for that,” said Shair. “We do environmental scans, walk around the campus and on the sites that are off campus and see people who are smoking and the placement of the ashcan trays.”
Two other students assisting with the research are Abigail Urena and Andrea Pereda.
“We sent the survey out on Dec. 5 (2017) to students, faculty and staff,” said Kecojevic. “We got a response rate of about 1,300 people, that’s about 10 percent of the entire university population.
“We asked about the use of tobacco products, and about 15 percent of the responders used a vaporizing product, about 14 percent uses auto smoking products and about 11.8 percent smokes cigarettes.”
State law requires that smokers stand 25 feet away from entrances before they light up, something the university also requires all those on campus to follow. However, on campus the university policy does not specify anywhere you can or cannot smoke in regard to exact square footage to entrances, except that you cannot smoke indoors whatsoever.
Kecojevic and his students want to make the students, faculty and staff more aware of what is happening. Social media has also been utilized by them to further reach out to the student population.
“We are trying to encourage a clean and greener environment on campus,” said Kecojevic.
Feature photo taken by Connor Murphy.