University of Otago student Fulin Zhao (23), pictured
smoking on the Dunedin campus, says the university's
smoke-free policy, which is coming into force next year,
may encourage people to quit. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The University of Otago is helping staff and students
kick their smoking habits in anticipation of its Dunedin campus
becoming smoke-free next year.
Co-chairwoman of the university's smoke-free campus
implementation working group Prof Janet Hoek said its efforts
to help smokers quit before the policy change involved
training staff to become quit advisers and subsidising
nicotine replacement therapy for smokers.
People trained as quit advisers could give out quit cards,
which entitled staff and domestic students to up to three
rounds of free nicotine replacement therapy per year until
May 31, 2015. The university would subsidise the $5
prescription fees, Prof Hoek said.
It was ''difficult to predict'' how much the subsidies would
cost the university as that would depend on how many smokers
took up the offer.
The university was following the lead of many other tertiary
institutions in becoming smoke-free, but offering more
support to smokers than other providers had, she said.
''I think what we are doing much better than any other
tertiary institution ... is providing support ... to people
who decide that this is the time that they would like to give
Given smoking was highly addictive, it was important the
university provided support to smokers before the new rule
came into force - which was now less than 100 days away.
International evidence suggested introducing smoke-free
policies encouraged some smokers to quit, she said.
''As the environment becomes less conducive to smoking, then
the number of triggers that will stimulate quit attempts also
increase,'' she said.
The university was also running a ''comprehensive publicity
programme'' so staff and students could plan for a smoke-free
''This is not telling people that they must quit smoking, or
that smoking is no longer tolerated among staff and students.
It's saying this is how the campus is going to be, and here
are your options for adjusting to this change.''
Fourth-year student and smoker Ben Darroch (22) supported the
smoke-free policy, but doubted it would cause many to quit.
It would not be much of an inconvenience to leave the campus
grounds to have cigarettes, he said.
International student and smoker Fulin Zhao (23), of China,
said the smoke-free policy change might encourage some people
to quit smoking.