Expert gives insights as NDSU goes smoke free
Ty Patterson, director of the Center of Excellence for Tobacco-Free Campus Policy, has advice for NDSU as it becomes smoke free. The university’s new policy was approved by President Richard A. Hanson and became effective March 1.
Patterson came to campus to hold open forums and meet with campus officials. He has assisted more than 250 higher education institutions, medical centers and businesses become smoke free since the center was established in 2004. The center is located at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Mo., and it shares knowledge, experiences and best practices with facilities implementing such policies.
“More businesses and organizations are becoming smoke free,” Patterson said at a March 1 open forum about the new campus policy. “By NDSU doing this, we’re preparing students for the direction the world of work is taking in regard to smoking. We are teaching a very important lesson that you need to be compliant with policy.”
According to Patterson, a critical element to the success of a smoke-free policy is continual communication and education. He said repeated messages about the policy are needed. He said effective signage is important, and he urged the university to include information about the policy in recruitment letters for potential students and the university’s contracts with vendors.
Patterson suggests a low-key approach to enforcement, informing smokers of the policy and asking for compliance before using penalties such as fines or probation for students. He said culture change takes time.
“I think the reaction will be very positive, provided the institution continues to take very seriously the importance of educating everybody of why the policy is there. We are doing this out of respect for others and the environment,” Patterson said. “There is a great likelihood the culture will change fairly substantially, and you’ll find widespread compliance and support the policy.”
Patterson is scheduled to hold another open forum on Tuesday, March 2, at 4 p.m. in the Memorial Union Century Theater. He also will meet with the NDSU Staff Senate on Wednesday, March 3, at 10:15 a.m. in the Memorial Union’s Great Room.