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A Message from Dean Judy Beal:
Dear SNHS friends,
I am writing on the eve of Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for here at SNHS – our wonderful faculty, staff, and of course, our students who continue to thrive and make us proud. I am thrilled to let you know that student leaders in SNHS are paving the way for a tobacco-free Simmons. Provost Conboy recently sent me and a junior nursing student leader to the "Becoming Tobacco Free" statewide symposium at UMass Worcester Medical School.
Dr. Howard Koh, a former Bostonian and friend of nursing at Simmons, was the keynoter. He is now the assistant secretary of health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He made a strong case for why we should become tobacco-free and spoke of the national initiative. He was joined by Cheryl Bartlett, a nurse and the commissioner of public health for Massachusetts; Pat Meservey, a nurse and my old BU colleague and friend who is president of Salem State, and; John Auerbach from Northeastern, who along with the leadership of Terry Fulmer, a fellow Skidmore RN and dear friend, led the charge to make NEU tobacco-free in ONE YEAR!
There are so many reasons why we need to become a tobacco-free campus, but the most compelling in my mind are:
- Tobacco is the #1 cause of premature death in the US with 9000 deaths per year in MA.
- It is the #1 cause of preventable chronic illness, which adds a $4.3 million in excess costs to employers in MA. For every smoker we hire, it costs Simmons $5,000 per year in health care costs. Some employers (mostly hospitals ) are no longer hiring smokers.
- Twenty-five percent of all college students smoke and 1 million of these will die prematurely from smoking.
- A tobacco-free campus will decrease employee health costs and absenteeism, increase employee productivity, dramatically save costs to building and grounds maintenance (cigarette butts are the single most commonly collected waste with 5.6 trillion butts per year).
- And the most compelling reason of all – 99 percent of smokers start smoking before they are 26 years old, with the majority never smoking before they come to college. We have a HUGE opportunity in the freshman year to change this.
We have made it our goal to become tobacco-free by next September and I feel confident that there is enough support on campus to accomplish this goal. I welcome any and all ideas.
All my very best to you and your family for a healthy and happy holiday season,
Judy A. Beal, DNSc, RN, FAAN
Dean School of Nursing and Health Sciences
Professor of Nursing
Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow 2008-2011