Benedictine College Announces Move to Tobacco-Free Campus

Benedictine Announces Move to Tobacco-Free Campus

Monday, November 03, 2014

Over the past two years, Benedictine College has been working on a plan to move the campus to a tobacco-free environment in the best interest of student and employee health. That plan was announced internally on Monday, Oct. 27. The new plan will institute three (3) designated smoking areas in a central location and on the north and south ends of campus on January 1, 2015. The college plans to move to a ban on the use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookahs, and e-cigarettes on July 1, 2015. The usage ban will apply to all students, faculty, staff, visitors, contractors and vendors while on college grounds.

“College-age individuals are at a heightened risk of picking up or continuing a tobacco habit,” said Dr. Joseph Wurtz, dean of students at Benedictine College. “We believe this decision will encourage a healthier lifestyle in the future.”

The State of Kansas is smoke-free in all public spaces. Many organizations in Atchison are already smoke-free or tobacco-free, including Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, USD 409, USD 377, Maur Hill-Mount Academy, the Atchison YMCA, Atchison Hospital, and the Atchison Sports Complex. And St. Benedict’s Abbey is smoke-free in all public spaces, including the Abbey Lookout.

The Office of Student Life conducted research on the health risks of tobacco use and visited with USD 409, Maur Hill-Mount Academy and Atchison Hospital, all of which had already implemented tobacco-free policies on their grounds. Additional research was conducted into the state of tobacco-free policies at colleges in Kansas and around the country.

According to Janet Adrian, RN, BSN, the director of Benedictine’s Student Health Services, the facts are alarming. Here is what she found:

  • Tobacco causes nearly 500,000 Americans to die prematurely EVERY YEAR.
  • Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco, accounting for one in ten adult deaths.
  • Smokeless tobacco contains more nicotine than cigarettes and includes 28 other cancer-causing agents.  Smokeless tobacco users have an increased risk of developing cancer of the oral cavity.
  • E-cigarettes are no better. They worsen air quality and contain chromium, a toxic element not present in traditional cigarettes, and nickel at levels four times higher than normal cigarettes.
  • And, there is NO risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to the health of others according to the Centers for Disease Control.

To help those currently addicted to these substances, Benedictine College will pay for Atchison Hospital’s smoking cessation courses for its employees. Benedictine’s Alcohol and Drug Task Force will pay for students who complete the Atchison Hospital’s course.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.