At an awards ceremony held in Augusta on March 29, 2018, Saint Joseph’s College received the Gold Star Standard of Excellence for the third year in a row, and Jenna Chase ‘11, of Windham, Assistant Director of Campus Recreation, Fitness & Wellness, was named one of two Individual Gold Star Champions statewide. After presenting the College and Jenna with their awards, the Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine hosted a luncheon to allow an opportunity for schools to further discuss successes and challenges of addressing tobacco use on campus. Saint Joseph’s College first implemented a campus-wide tobacco-free initiative in August 2013 to improve the health of students, faculty, staff, and visitors. In the years since, the College has advanced from the Silver to Gold Star Standard of Excellence.
The Gold Star Standards of Excellence program recognizes Maine’s post-secondary institutions of higher education for their work to create and support tobacco-free environments and lifestyles. Each year schools are recognized at the bronze, silver or gold level based on how many of the 10 best practice Gold Star Standards are met.
To earn gold, Saint Joseph’s had to receive stars in all 10 of the program’s outlined standards, which include initiating a 100% smoke- and tobacco-free campus policy, strictly enforcing said policy, and offering support for and education about the dangers of tobacco usage. Building upon efforts begun when the policy was first announced in 2013, this year, members of the College pushed to install more prominent signage declaring the campus as a tobacco-free space.
The Breathe Easy Coalition reminds citizens that tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Maine and the United States. The Preventing Tobacco Use among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General (2012), states 99% of smokers begin before the age of 26. Creating tobacco-free social norms through the adoption of strong policies, offering education about the harmful effects of use and exposure, and providing supports in quitting can help reduce the number of young adults that become daily tobacco users.
For more information on the College’s tobacco-free policy, please contact Jenna Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org.