MSU Tobacco Ban a Gradual Incentive Process

by: Nichole Gunn February 16, 2011

Tobacco smoke has been well documented as a health concern. In fact second and third-hand smoke is also a health concern that can contribute to asthma and heart disease, among other chronic illnesses.

Employers implementing a new employee wellness program usually want to address the most common contributing factors to poor health and smoking is one of them. But, while initiating a wellness program employers need to consider all employees and members, including those who find it difficult to adapt and those who aren’t interested in participating.

Smoking, although unhealthy, is a tough habit to break, and many employees have no desire to stop. This, though, is not preventing Missouri State University (MSU) from taking steps to create a tobacco free campus in 2012. Realizing the benefits for all involved, MSU is taking a gradual approach to its endeavor.

The university is implementing a phased-in tobacco ban that is geared to provide healthier air to all those on campus. Having it phased-in will allow smokers sufficient time to adjust. To begin, part of the transition included limiting“outdoor smoking to 26 designated zones throughout the campus.”

Sheila Bowen, the university's employee wellness coordinator, explained the Springfield News Leader that the university is trying to be respectful to both smokers and nonsmokers. "There's not one benefit for smoking: Not financial, not health, not status," explained Bowen. "We want to help students to be more healthy."

Employee wellness is a strategy to help employers curb ever-rising healthcare costs and foster a healthy and productive staff. As part of a healthy-living environment, MSU has banned smoking indoors for years. Taking it up a notch to include a ban outdoors has become a hot topic for campus employees and students, but those in favor of the incentive program are pleased to have the needed nudge to help them quit smoking.