Education, resources, cooperation key to new smoke-free policy

Contact: James Carskadon

MSU administrators are encouraging education and cooperation as the campus community adjusts to a new smoking and tobacco use policy. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss. – With Mississippi State University officially becoming a smoke-free campus today [Aug. 1], university administrators are encouraging education and cooperation as the campus community adjusts to a new smoking and tobacco use policy.

Developed with input from the MSU Student Association, Faculty Senate and Staff Council, the policy prohibits smoking any tobacco-based product, including e-cigarettes, on MSU’s Starkville and Meridian campuses. MSU joins more than 1,480 college and university campuses in the U.S. that now have smoke-free policies, including many of MSU’s peer institutions in the Southeastern Conference.

As the new policy goes into effect, a promotional campaign will remind students, staff and visitors of the new policy and promote the university’s smoking cessation resources. Information on the smoke-free campus campaign can be found at

MSU Dean of Students Thomas Bourgeois, who chairs the committee leading the smoke-free initiative, said he understands the policy will be an adjustment for students and staff who have been able to smoke on campus, but a smoke-free campus soon will become part of the culture.

“We want to make sure we do a good job of educating everyone about the changes and also make sure there’s a support system behind it,” Bourgeois said.

The MSU Department of Health Education and Wellness provides free cessation classes for MSU students, faculty and staff at MSU’s Longest Student Health Center. Additionally, the Mississippi Tobacco Quitline is available to all Mississippi residents by calling 1-800-Quit-Now. The smoke-free campus policy notes that Blue Cross & Blue Shield insurance covers 12 weeks of Chantix medication with prescription.

MSU Director of Health Education and Wellness Joyce Yates said the policy will promote a healthier campus and reduce the presence of secondhand smoke.

“We’re taking a positive approach to promote health and create a healthier culture,” Yates said. “The use of cigarettes for students has decreased over the years. That’s a good thing, too. It’s also a good time to communicate more about secondhand smoke.”

The smoke-free campaign includes signage throughout campus, providing reminders of the policy. Additionally, business cards with information about the policy will be distributed. Students, employees and visitors are expected to abide by the policy and encouraged to respectfully remind violators of the policy.

Smoking cessation classes will meet at different times throughout the week for approximately 30 minutes. MSU Health and Wellness Educator JuLeigh Baker, a trained tobacco treatment specialist, coordinates the classes. She said talking to other people who have gone through the same struggles is helpful to most people trying to quit.

“In those classes, we go through the workbook and it gives them tips, suggestions, different ways to help them quit,” Baker said. “It includes suggestions for what to do if they’re having an urge to smoke, realizing what their triggers to smoke may be.”

The smoke-free initiative committee consists of representatives from university administration, the MSU Student Association, Athletics Department, Police Department, Student Affairs and Housing and Residence Life. The committee will continue to be involved with policy implementation, including educating new students and employees. The group is seeking the help of the campus community on both policy education and enforcement, and encourages anyone on campus to be polite and courteous as the new policy goes into effect.

“We’ve looked at best practices,” Yates said. “We’ve looked at the research, and we’ve come up with a really good plan. Anything we do to improve quality of life for students, faculty and staff is positive, and that’s what this is.”

To read Mississippi State University’s policy on smoking and tobacco use on campus, visit

For more information on the cessation classes and to reserve a seat, contact JuLeigh Baker at or 662-325-2141.

For more information on the smoke-free campus campaign and for answers to frequently asked questions, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Monday, August 1, 2016 - 3:18 pm