Parkland gives smokers long warning: No butts on the horizon

Parkland gives smokers long warning: No butts on the horizon

CHAMPAIGN — Smokers at Parkland College are being warned their days of lighting up on campus are numbered.

The college's wellness center is using next week — which includes the American Cancer Society's annual Great American Smokeout Thursday — to get the word out to students, staff and the rest of the community that the entire Parkland campus is going smoke-free July 1, 2015.

Hear from Parkland President Tom Ramage Monday at 7:40 on WDWS.

"We are using the entire week of the Great American Smokeout as a way of letting them know this change is coming," said Parkland Wellness Coordinator June Burch.

The Great American Smokeout is a day on which smokers are encouraged to make a plan to quit smoking, or to actually quit if they make a plan in advance.

Burch said Parkland has been working toward a smoke-free campus for about two years, and has timed its smoking ban to an Illinois law requiring all state-funded colleges and universities to have smoke-free campuses by next July 1.

Danville Area Community College went smoke-free in 2012, and the University of Illinois did the same a year ago.

Parkland's smoking ban will cover both its main campus on Bradley Avenue and its satellite location on Mattis Avenue, Burch said.

One detail remaining to be worked out is how to handle smoking in cars entering campus, she said.

Under the Smoke Free Campus Act signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on Aug. 17, smoking is still legal inside cars traveling through campuses, "but we would like to say even if you are in your personal vehicle, once you cross onto Parkland property you stop smoking," Burch said.

"If it's a convertible it defeats the purpose," she added. "And also, it doesn't address the problem with litter. If you can smoke in your car, you can flick the cigarette butt into the parking lot."

A survey done in 2012 found 9.2 percent of Parkland's staff and nearly 17 percent of students are smokers. The survey also found the majority of people on campus find smoking litter and even outdoor smoking on campus (currently allowed beyond 15 feet of doorways) problematic, Burch said.

At the UI's Urbana-Champaign campus, nearly 25 percent of students are smokers, though only 7 percent consider themselves regular smokers, according to UI Wellness Director Michele Guerra.

Nationally, just over 17 percent of adults between the ages of 18-24 smoke.

Guerra said college student smokers tend to do so in a more established pattern than older smokers. They smoke to relax before an exam, or when they're out at a party, and think they won't need to smoke down the road. But they fail to realize how addictive it can be.

"From a public health perspective, we know most people who develop a lifelong habit do so between the ages of 18 and 26," Guerra said.

On the day of the Smokeout, there will be information about quitting smoking and quit kits available in two places on the UI campus, on the Quad and at the Beckman Institute, she said.

Parkland is posting warning signs about its upcoming smoking ban around campus, and providing information about quitting smoking throughout next week in the atrium area, Burch said.

On Wednesday, Parkland will also have quit kits and turkey sandwiches available to encourage smokers to quit cold-turkey, she said.

Tips to quit smoking, courtesy of the American Cancer Society:

— Don't keep quitting a secret. Tell friends and family members so they can support you, and also talk to your doctor about it.

— Consider using quit-smoking medication.

— Get rid of anything that reminds you of smoking in the places you typically smoke, and avoid places smokers gather.

— To help curb craving, drink lots of water and pass on the alcohol and coffee if you associate them with smoking. Keep yourself busy, and have oral substitutes (such as apples, raisins and gum) on hand.

— Remember, even having just one cigarette could turn you back into a full-time smoker.

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dustmybroom wrote on November 15, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Go to the bars in Ford County, smoke all you want!