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5/12/2018 6:19:00 PM
President backs a more tobacco-free ISU campus

Sue Loughlin, Tribune-Star

Indiana State University President Deborah Curtis supports efforts promoting a comprehensive tobacco-free campus, and she hopes to present a recommendation to the board of trustees this fall, she said Friday.

Although not an agenda item, the subject was addressed during Friday's board of trustees meeting. 

Katie Lugar, founding president of the student-lead Tobacco-Free Blue effort on campus, made a presentation. "We advocate for a comprehensive tobacco-free policy for campus," said Lugar, an ISU doctoral student.

Currently, Indiana State has a smoke-free policy, but there are exceptions; smoking is permitted in privately-owned vehicles and in designated smoking areas on campus. The policy has not been updated in several years, Lugar said. 

Tobacco-Free Blue wants to remove those exceptions, but also increase access to tobacco cessation resources. She also pointed to potential grants available to assist with such an initiative.

A comprehensive tobacco-free policy also would prohibit e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, she said.

The change would have many positive impacts, Lugar said, including reducing exposure to second-hand smoke, less cigarette litter and simplified enforcement. It also helps people who are trying to quit, she said.

Tobacco-Free Blue has 2,000 signatures of support, and several letters of support, Lugar said.

As of April 1, more than 2,000 campuses across the country were smoke-free and of those, 1,800 were also 100 percent tobacco free. Several in Indiana are tobacco free, she said, including Rose Hulman and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

According to Curtis, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study indicates that of every $10 spent on health care in the U.S., almost 90 cents or 8.7 percent is for illness caused by tobacco smoke. 

She cited another report that breaks out ISU health care claims by lifestyle conditions such as obesity, tobacco use, etc. It indicates $1.1 million in direct costs and $1.24 million in indirect costs that can be associated with tobacco use, although other conditions may also apply, she said.

"These are significant costs. For several years ISU has worked to reduce tobacco use by offering several types of cessation programs for employees. I would anticipate we will be coming back to this board sometime in the very near future with some policy recommendation and asking you to consider this," Curtis said during the meeting.

After the meeting, she indicated she supports taking the next step with a comprehensive tobacco-free policy.

It's important because it promotes the health and wellbeing of ISU employees, but it also would reduce ISU's health care costs. "This in my opinion should not be a debatable issue. We should help people live healthier lives —  and by the way, that's good because we end up with some cost savings in health care."

Another reason she supports it is that "it helps our students establish this commitment in their lives to being healthier. I've brainstormed with this group [Tobacco-Free Blue], and we've got additional ideas ...  about creating a healthier focus on campus for all of us —  employees and students."

Curtis continued, "We'd like to eventually be known as a wellness-focused campus. This is one of those pieces."

She wanted to introduce the proposal to the board Friday, but will be connecting with them individually in the coming months to hear their thoughts "so whatever we bring forward will be amenable to the board's thinking on that." 

Later, Lugar said she was encouraged by Curtis' support and enthusiasm.

Other board business 

In other matters, the trustees approved operating budgets for the 2018-19 fiscal year. Overall projected revenue and expenses for Indiana State’s general fund budget is $195.3 million.

Tuition [55.1 percent] and state support [40.7 percent] make up the majority of ISU's projected revenue. The remaining 4.2 percent is other fees and charges, miscellaneous income and transfers. Revenue includes a 1.95 percent increase in tuition and mandatory fees, approved by the board last year.

The new budget contains a 1.8 percent increase pool for salary adjustments, including a 1.5 percent across-the-board increase for employees with good performance, and in addition, faculty and staff target salary programs. Criteria for any salary adjustments will be determined once enrollment numbers are known for the fall 2018 semester and overall budgetary conditions are assessed.

The budget also reflects a 1.5 percent increase in student wages and a 2 percent increase in student scholarships.

Also Friday, Curtis asked for a moment of silence for fallen Terre Haute Police Department Officer Rob Pitts, who was laid to rest Wednesday after being killed in the line of duty on May 4. Pitts' daughter, Brooke, attends ISU.

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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