Chancellor to address state summit on tobacco-free campuses


Menomonie, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Stout Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen will deliver the keynote address at a conference Tuesday intended to help other colleges and universities in Wisconsin implement tobacco-free policies.

Sorensen will describe UW-Stout’s journey to become the only public four-year campus in the UW System with a comprehensive tobacco-free policy at the Summit on Tobacco-Free Campuses sponsored by the American Lung Association at Monona Terrace in Madison.

“I am honored to be asked to talk about the subject of tobacco-free campuses, which I am passionate about,” Sorensen said. “I believe we have learned some things at UW-Stout that could help other state universities follow our path in providing a healthier campus environment for students, faculty and staff.”

UW-Stout students voted 1,176-718 in an April 2009 advisory referendum to ban smoking on campus. Students voted in another advisory referendum in April 2010 to ban the use of all tobacco products on campus. Sorensen accepted the results of those referendums, and the tobacco-free policy went into effect Sept. 1, 2010.

At least 825 campuses across the country are smoke-free, including about 15 in Wisconsin, mainly technical colleges. UW-Baraboo/Sauk County is the only other UW System institution on the list.

Sorensen will tell the summit that the tobacco-free policy has been embraced by students, faculty and staff during its first two years and has dramatically changed the culture of tobacco use at UW-Stout.
“No one has to walk through clouds of tobacco smoke to get into or leave a building,” Sorensen said. “We have cut the use of tobacco on campus significantly and continue to make progress in fully implementing the policy.”

The policy sends an important message to students, faculty and staff about the dangers of using any form of tobacco, he added.

“There is very good evidence that a policy like this will help prevent some people from becoming smokers and may help others to quit,” he said. “This policy will save lives.”

Also speaking will be Doug Mell, UW-Stout executive director of communications and external relations and chairman of the Tobacco-Free Campus Policy Implementation Committee. Mell will describe the communications and other efforts the university has used to implement the policy.

Those efforts were bolstered recently after the university received a $1,500 grant from the American Lung Association.

Other scheduled speakers include Susan Uttech, director of the state Bureau of Community Health Promotion; Sue Swan, executive director of the American Lung Association in Wisconsin; Dustin Hinton, a vice president for United Healthcare; and Kathy Staats, program director for “Spark,” the campus-tobacco effort of the state American Lung Association.

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