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AUB clears the air with action for Tobacco-Free AUB 2018
8/30/2017
Safa Jafari Safa  |  Communications Office  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
The initial plan to phase out certain designated smoking areas on AUB campus came into effect on August 30, before moving to a comprehensive solution for a tobacco-free campus in 2018. As a transitional phase, nine smoking areas have been decommissioned out of 13, leaving four smoking areas on the periphery of campus to be closed by January 1, 2018.

In an official message, President Fadlo Khuri updated the AUB community on progress made towards AUB’s mandate of a tobacco-free AUB and explained the interim measures recommended by the assigned Task Force to best allow smokers to adapt to the new arrangements. Referring to the Phasing Out Map​ being displayed on AUB campus and AUBMC, President Khuri explained the changes to be expected starting Fall 2017.

The four interim smoking areas remaining until December 2017 and demarcated by new signage are one by each of the men’s and women’s dormitories, one in the seating area near the Office of Protection by the AUB Main Gate, and one near the Agriculture building. In the decommissioned areas, brown benches have been painted green and ashtrays have been removed. Planning is underway to transform the former smoking areas into new, healthier social spaces, and the Task Force has launched a competition to involve AUB students in the design of off-campus locations.

“We are trying to be as innovative as possible,” said Dr. Rima Nakkash, chair of the Task Force on a Tobacco-Free AUB and associate professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences. “We will coordinate with interested partners to refurbish areas where smoking zones will be taken out or redesign them in a way that keeps them available for students to socialize, but in a healthy manner instead.”

Starting January 1, 2018, the interim smoking areas will be closed and smoking will not be permitted anywhere on AUB property, except for night-time smoking areas near the women’s and men’s student dorms and faculty apartments; and beside the Laundry building, only until August 2018. Starting August 2018, AUB and AUBMC will become completely tobacco-free. 

The designated Task Force has been working since President Khuri announced the initiative in March 2017 to follow an evidence-based approach to develop campus policy and plan all aspects of implementation, enforcement, and evaluation. The statistics they gathered from examining best practices from other institutions support the rationale that smoke-free environments promote healthy behavior for all. Tobacco-free universities create an environment that discourages youth from taking up smoking and enables smokers to consider leading a healthier, tobacco-free life.

Assigned to propose steps that facilitate a smooth transition towards a tobacco-free community, the Task Force has embarked on building a volunteer ambassadors’/champions’ program to support the implementation and enforcement of the policy. To date, 36 volunteering staff, students, and faculty have started a training led by the Center for Public Health Practice (CPHP) at the Faculty of Health Sciences. 

“I want to make a difference both inside and outside AUB, especially since three people I know have developed lung cancer,” Hanaa Kobeisi, associate director at the Office of Financial Aid, told us. For Ali Youssef, a program assistant in the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, helping out was an opportunity to volunteer and contribute to the wellness of the AUB community.

Smoking Cessation Programs at AUMBC have become more widely accessible, and different plans are materializing for awareness-raising about the policy. Plans have been turned into positive steps taken towards promoting a healthy university and community, promising a more socially responsible and healthier generation.

“I am satisfied that the requisite considerations have been made to mitigate safety, crowding, and littering issues and allow for transition, while assertively leading us towards a healthier community and educational space, and especially setting a positive example to its younger members who may not have started smoking,” said President Khuri in his message. “Our goals are to protect the health of our community to the greatest extent possible.”
Story Highlights
  • ​​The initial plan to phase out certain designated smoking areas on AUB campus came into effect on August 30, before moving to a comprehensive solution for a tobacco-free campus in 2018. 
  • As a transitional phase, nine smoking areas have been decommissioned out of 13, leaving four smoking areas on the periphery of campus to be closed by January 1, 2018.
 
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