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October 23, 2008

Clean-air initiative aims to cut tobacco use

A new initiative will study and make policy recommendations regarding smoking on the Pittsburgh campus.

The Clean Air Initiative is a task force of faculty, staff and students recently formed under the auspices of the ReSET (Reduce Smoking and Exposure to Tobacco) Center, part of the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH); the Office of Health Education and Promotion, part of Student Health Service, and the tobacco dependence initiative program, part of UPMC Health Plan.

Stephanie Land, research associate professor in GSPH and executive director of the ReSET Center, reported on the early stages of the initiative at the Oct. 15 Senate Council meeting.

“The goals of the Clean Air Initiative are to address all of the problems related to smoking and tobacco use on the Pittsburgh campus,” Land said.

That includes reducing the rate of smoking campus-wide, and changing the social norms to discourage smoking and promote cessation.

“We’re also interested in addressing smoker etiquette and environmental issues, such as second-hand smoke and tobacco-related litter,” she said.

“At this point, we have 17 members on the task force. We are in the very early planning stages and hope to have even broader student representation, so we’re still seeking members from student government and social organizations.”

The first piece of the puzzle is gathering information, Land said.

“We’re doing this in a variety of ways: We’re now designing surveys, which will be directed to different places and different sub-populations of the University. We have a Facebook page, which is geared to gather support from students. We have started a blog. We plan to initiate and conduct focus groups and public hearings, and to do some direct measurement, for example, of the second-hand smoke and tobacco litter issues.”

Members of the Pitt community also can subscribe online ( to receive announcements of activities and events from the ReSET Center or to exchange opinions with list members.

The blog ( was activated Oct. 1, and features a simple starting question: Do you think hookah smoking is as dangerous as cigarette smoking?

To stimulate interest, questions will be changed periodically, Land said. “This is a first step, and if it works well, [the blog] might be expanded to include other programs in Health Education and Promotion. The idea is to try to get the community to give us feedback. A lot of us are new to sharing information in this way, so we’ll see how it works.”

The Facebook page, dubbed “Fresh Kiss,” is designed to collect data support for the program, particularly from students.

The task force already has distributed posters with anti-smoking messages, Land said. “The pharmacy school had a competition last year to create video public service announcements related to smoking and we might do that again. We want to make sure the signage on campus is adequate in terms of communicating the [University’s] policies. And we will be investigating the possibility of having designated smoking areas. In April, we plan to do follow-up assessments of the [smoking-related] emissions levels that we initially are measuring now.”

The ReSET Center also is sponsoring a roundtable discussion on Oct. 28, 3:30 p.m., in 109 Parran Hall, titled “Quitting on Campus: Smoking Prevention and Cessation at Student Health Service.”

For more information on the Clean Air Initiative, email Land at

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 41 Issue 5

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