On Friday, the University announced that it will review its tobacco use policy to ensure that it complies with a new mandate from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Two weeks ago, CPRIT announced that all institutions that receive its funds must be completely tobacco-free. UT professors received almost $30 million in grant money from CPRIT this year, and almost $90 million in grant applications are still outstanding. If UT does not change its tobacco-use policy by March 1, 2012, it will lose access to CPRIT funding.
The current smoking policy prohibits smoking within 20 feet of a building entrance and within University buildings. CPRIT requires a stricter policy. Tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco products, must not be allowed except for a very narrow range of activities, including certain theater performances and tobacco-related research conducted on campus. Tobacco use in all other venues, such as sporting events and at construction sites, must be prohibited.
The University is expected to convene various groups, including Student Government, the Staff Council and the Faculty Council, to discuss a revision of the tobacco use policy within the next two weeks. With CPRIT’s deadline less than three weeks away, it cannot afford to wait.
The following quotes are from an interview conducted on Friday with Adrienne Howarth-Moore, the director Human Resource Services.
“Student Government has been very active [on a tobacco policy]. It’s not that we have not been aware. We have been evaluating what is the best fit for us.”
– On a resolution Student Government passed last March supporting UT gradually becoming a smoke-free campus over the next seven years.
“It will be a challenge for current tobacco users that we will address with education and tobacco cessation resources. We’re not looking at punitive penalties. We’re looking to support.”
– On the possible ways that UT will enforce any change to its smoking policy. An enforcement plan is required by the new CPRIT policy.
“All of our constituents are important and valuable. We will talk about an implementation plan.”
– On the inclusion of various campus constituencies in the creation of a new tobacco use policy.
“The challenge will be education, communication and helping people understand the reason behind the change.”
– On the possible challenges the University will face in implementing a new tobacco use policy.
“We don’t just have a focus on research, but cancer research. We want to be able to eradicate cancer.”
– On the University’s commitment to continuing to partner with CPRIT in its research endeavors.