Doc Is In / Opinion

Nicotine Questions: Answered

1. What does the UCSB Smoke Free policy include and why is it happening now?

This is a UC system-wide policy that was announced in January 2012 and implemented as of January 1, 2014, meaning all 10 UC campuses, as well as their affiliated laboratories, have implemented this policy.

According to the UC Policy, “As a public institution of higher education with units that research and treat the effects of smoking and tobacco use, the University of California recognizes its responsibility to exercise leadership in the promotion of a healthy, smoke/tobacco-free environment for all students, academic appointees, staff, and visitors. The system-wide policy and associated procedures are intended to provide a healthier, safe and productive work and learning environment for the entire UC community.”

2. How will the policy be enforced?

The enforcement of this policy will be primarily educational, focusing on informing all members of the UC Santa Barbara community and campus visitors of this new policy and of cessation resources.

UCSB asks for everyone’s help enforcing this Smoke Free policy. Nicotine users and non-users are asked to respectfully approach people violating the policy if they are comfortable doing so. It is best to pleasantly remind them that all UC campuses are now smoke and tobacco-free, meaning they should resume their smoking off the campus premises. If you see someone smoking, just remember you are not responsible for making them quit. However, a friendly reminder that we are all part of the UC community and participating in this policy together is helpful. The university has also provided “How to Approach” videos that give suggestions on how to approach individuals in different situations.

This policy is going to be challenging for those who are addicted to nicotine, one of the most addictive drugs. Please help by understanding that quitting is not easy and referring people to the cessation resources UCSB offers through the Alcohol and Drug Program.

3. What are e-cigs and are e-cigs included in the policy?

The policy includes smoking, smokeless tobacco and unregulated nicotine products, or “e-cigarettes”. Some argue that e-cigarettes should not be included in the policy because they are “safe” and “help people quit.” While e-cigarettes do produce less pollution than cigarettes, they are still putting heavy metals, fine particles and other toxins into the air.

Additionally, at this time, no independent studies have shown that e-cigarettes have helped people quit. According to a 2011 University of Geneva study, researchers found that while 89 percent of e-cig users said it was easier for them to abstain from smoking while using an e-cig, 79 percent still feared they would relapse if they stopped using it. Because they are such a new product, there are not sufficient studies on the long-term effects of e-cigs. E-cigs are not FDA–approved cessation devices and should not be treated as such; however, there are a number of regulated and monitored cessation devices which are offered both over-the-counter and through prescription.

4. I only smoke when I drink. Should I be worried about negative effects?

The short answer is yes. Although you may not be smoking as often as self-identified “smokers” or feeling any cravings, your chances of addiction are increasing every time you choose to smoke. These types of smokers may only smoke when they drink, when they feel stressed or when they’re with friends, but before long they find themselves smoking one pack per day with exponentially increasing dependence.

5. What can I do for a friend who is a smoker to help them quit?

If you know someone who is a smoker and has been thinking about quitting, a great first step is encouraging them to contact the Alcohol and Drug Program located at Embarcadero Hall. The Alcohol and Drug Program offers free cessation services for students considering or in the process of quitting smoking. Free products, such as nicotine patches, lozenges and gum, are distributed to students during the cessation program, in addition to help making healthy changes to support their choice to quit.

Please visit tobaccofree.ucsb.edu for more information on the new UC Smoke and Tobacco Free policy and alcohol.sa.ucsb.edu/Services/StopSmoking.aspx for UCSB’s free cessation services.

This article is a collaboration between Michael Takahara, Chair of the UCSB Smoke-Free Campus Steering Committee, Marjan Riazi, Acting Alcohol and Drug Program Education and Outreach Coordinator and Alcohol and Drug Program Cessation specialists Lauren Reisman (fourth-year communication major) and Lindsey Lucero (fourth-year psychology major).

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, February 5, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are primarily submitted by students.
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