University of Iowa President Sally Mason has accepted a task force recommendation to issue a campus-wide smoking ban. U-of-I spokesperson Steve Parrott says it will provide a healthier environment for employees, students and others. In addition, the move is expected to lower health care costs.
"That’s one of the biggest expenses we have at a university," Parrott said. "We also think it will increase employee productivity because people that smoke are absent from work more often than those who aren’t (smoking)." The smoking ban was debated by U-of-I students and staff for nearly two years and still won’t take effect until July 1, 2009.
Parrott says delaying the ban until then will give employees and others on campus who do smoke – a chance to quit. Mason says the university will provide free or discounted smoking cessation programs and services. Parrott says enforcing the smoking ban will initially rely on educating people about the policy and why it’s in place.
"Then after that, I think the emphasis is going to be on civility and respect," Parrott said. "We’re just hopeful that, for the most part, if people are told it’s a non-smoking campus they’ll honor that. We’ve found that to be the case on our health science campus, where we’ve already implemented (an indoor and) outdoor ban on smoking."
The University of Iowa is the first of Iowa’s public universities to pass a smoke free policy. Des Moines University and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids are among the private colleges to ban smoking on their campuses.