Students returning for classes this fall will find that The University of New Mexico has updated and will begin to enforce its Tobacco-Free policy on its main and branch campuses.

New signage at the entrances to campus as well as notices affixed to nearly all doorways into buildings, plus banners and more will be obvious to all students, staff, faculty and visitors when the fall term begins.

The policy, which will officially take effect on Aug. 15, will include all forms of tobacco, including chewing tobacco (dip), e-cigarettes (vaping), pipes, cigars and any other form of tobacco use. UNM is also in the process of eliminating most of its “designated smoking areas”, although there will be areas available to full-time residence hall students for safety reasons.

The University began this initiative several years ago, but lacked the necessary marketing and enforcement resources to make it stick. This time, with assistance from a New Mexico Department of Health grant, an awareness campaign, signage and plans for enforcement are already in place.

“We wanted to be respectful to all of the members of our campus community,” said John Steiner, program manager for UNM’s Campus Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (COSAP), a part of the CASAA research center and holder of the grant. “’We will be using peer educators or “Student Ambassadors” to engage tobacco users and to explain to them why tobacco, and second-hand smoke are injurious to all members of our community. They’ll also supply them with information about programs for kicking the habit. We want to use a gentle approach, but if someone continues to ignore the policy, citations by UNM Police could be the result.”

For UNM students, staff, faculty and visitors who may be trying to quit smoking, the State of New Mexico offers free cessation support services that can include three months of nicotine replacement therapy; one-on-one phone coaching sessions with trained tobacco counselors; a “Web Coach”; text messaging; and other assistance. Faculty and staff may contact their health care provider for benefits covered by their health insurance plan.

Additionally, UNM offers its own cessation resources. Faculty and staff are encouraged to visit Counseling Assistance and Referral Services (CARS), and students can visit Student Health and Counseling (SHAC).

New Mexico DOH has also provided resources for COSAP to form a network of post-secondary institutions throughout the state. This network is intended to help disseminate the results of the policy experiences learned at UNM to help other institutions implement such policies.

The full UNM tobacco use policy can be found here.

Further inquiries about the policy or options for quitting can be directed to John Steiner at 505.277.0360 or Kyle Smith at 505.277.0531.