Chancellors at all University of California campuses across the state will soon form steering committees to implement the university's new smoke-free policy by 2014.
UC will ban both smoking and chewing tobacco on campuses, including parking lots and housing, as part of its commitment to cut tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. The sale and advertising of tobacco products also will be prohibited.
"Smoking is a leading cause of preventable and premature death," said Grace Crickette, chief risk officer. "Making all our campuses smoke-free provides a healthy environment for our students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors. It's the right thing to do."
A leader in strong health care practices, UC has already barred smoking at its five medical centers. The remaining campuses do not allow smoking inside buildings and within 20 to 25 feet of buildings.
All UC-sponsored medical plans offer tobacco cessation resources, programs and prescription nicotine replacement therapy to help employees quit smoking.
More than 585 other colleges and universities across the country have banned smoking.
In a letter this month, President Mark G. Yudof directed chancellors to assemble steering committees tasked with implementing the policy at their locations. Campuses will release additional details to their communities as they become available.
Enforcement will rely primarily on educating smokers about the dangers of lighting up and campus resources that can help them quit, Crickette said.
More than 440,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses every year, making smoking the No. 1 cause of preventable death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Secondhand smoke causes nearly 50,000 deaths annually, primarily from lung cancer and heart disease.
About 10 percent of UC employees smoke, below the state average of 12 percent and the national average of nearly 20 percent, according to a report from the university's smoking policy subcommittee. About 8 percent of UC students smoke, compared to the national average of 16 percent. Young adults are considered the most susceptible to becoming regular smokers.
The policy to snuff out smoking and tobacco use grew out of discussions at the university's August 2011 occupational wellness forum and is part of the university's larger wellness initiatives.
Some campuses were already thinking about going smoke-free and had begun researching the idea. A committee of occupational health and wellness specialists from different campuses was formed and crafted the systemwide policy.
Katherine Tam is a communications coordinator in internal communications at UC's Office of the President.