February 27, 2018, Cairo – In an effort to make The American University in Cairo (AUC) a healthier campus by the centennial celebration in 2019, the University has launched an initiative to ban smoking and tobacco use on campus in phases. The initiative kicked off this month, permitting smoking only in designated areas around campus. The second phase will soon permit smoking only outside of the pedestrian gates, so that by February 2019, there will be no smoking or tobacco use of any kind allowed anywhere at AUC.The Tobacco-Free AUC Committee, made up of students, faculty and administrative representatives, has been working on a plan to ban tobacco use on campus and has updated the AUC community with the latest policy. “Our diverse team of students, faculty, and staff that includes both smokers and non-smokers was assembled to ensure a maximum range of viewpoints on the topic,” said David Folsom, who is on the Tobacco-Free AUC Committee from the Office of the Executive Vice Provost. “We believe that the steps we debated and eventually decided upon are fair and consistent with the best practices of universities in the United States that have undergone the tobacco-free transformation we are setting in motion.” At the start of the new year, there are more than 2,000 smoke-free campuses in the United States, according to the American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation.
Jaime Mendoza, associate professor of practice of psychology professor at AUC, who is also on the committee, said he empathizes with smokers who will have to make changes in their social and personal habits, but ultimately, “the overall goal is for all of us to become healthier. The team is concerned about our health now and in the future,” he said.
The committee -- which includes smokers -- has said that complete prohibition is ultimately for the betterment of all.
Having a tobacco-free campus is designed to clear the air for the majority of those who work and study at AUC, who are non smokers, in addition to encouraging smokers to take steps to reduce their dependence on tobacco,” Folsom said. “The ill-effects of consuming tobacco and inhaling secondhand smoke are numerous and well-documented, so there is a clear public health benefit to moving the campus toward a tobacco-free future.”
In addition to easing into the new policy, AUC is also providing free smoking cessation services at the Office of Medical Services, open every day during the week.