University of Iowa students are giving up smoking at a higher rate than their peers and administrators credit strict new residence rules. “Health Iowa” coordinator Sarah Hansen explains dorms at U of I are now no-smoking zones. They first had smoke-free floors students could choose to live on, and in August, 2000 all the residence halls went smoke-free. Hansen says the school has repeatedly surveyed students to ask who’s had a cigarette in the past 30 days. The number climbed throughout most of the ’90s, peaking in 1997 at 41-point-one percent. But when it started to go down, Hansen says the no-smoking policies seemed to be part of the reason. They saw a decrease with the start of the smoke-free floors, and numbers continued to go down once all dorms went entirely smoke-free. For contrast, the student health service compared the University of Minnesota. It was a big midwestern university that hadn’t banned smoking in dorms, and the data was similar until the new policy and then you could see the figures “split” at the two schools. At the University of Iowa, the number of students who smoke fell to 28-point-three percent in 2001, and the U of Minnesota figure rose to 48-point-eight in 2000, the last year reported to date. Hansen says the decision to smoke or not in college can shape a whole life. She says health habits established in college can affect all future decisions, including those about eating, fitness, managing stress, and using alcohol and tobacco. “Health Iowa” is the education program of the student health service at the U of I.
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