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MATC becomes tobacco-free November 1

College wellness coming soon

By Jim Nance Times
On October 10, 2012

In July, MATC campuses were all on fire with the extinguishing of tobacco usage on premises.  Smokers were outraged; non-smokers were relieved, but there were still issues in the policy that needed to be cleared up with the students and staff.  
This policy was implemented to show the school's progress in being a leader in education and innovation. You could look at MATC being tobacco-free as a wellness initiative, while taking the clean air policy a step further and upgrading the standards for this two-year college.

This concept is nothing new in colleges around the country; at Western Technical College, Gateway and WCTC in LaCrosse they have the same tobacco-free policy at their campus.  The adoption of this change will not show results in one day or even in one semester, but an awareness and efforts are in place for those who struggle with this addiction. Anne Sheridan, Coordinator, Employee Wellness and Risk Management, works toward educating the faculty on resources available to them for their success during this transition.

"Coming to me is all confidential. I see individuals or groups who are looking forward to assistance in quitting. If there are enough people interested, I have training in preemptive smoking. Currently, I have only four people signed up for a class and I look to see who in the community I could refer them to," says Sheridan.  Her role in wellness for students is to assist the Student Life office with resources.  Faculty was alerted through email to contact Sheridan for information on quitting smoking.
In conversation, Sheridan shared the complexity of quitting tobacco from a personal stance. "It's good for your health, from head to toe, but it's something that they must do at their own time. We can provide the resources, but they must be willing to use them," Sheridan added when discussing reasons for smokers to quit. Everyone has their reasons for smoking and they also have their reasons to quit.  No one could determine their lifestyle to be deviant, but at MATC it is now a policy that the campus becomes tobacco-free and adherence to the policy is a must.

Kathleen Hohl, Director of Communications and Events, works to make sure the policy is reiterated and communicated clearly to the community. "This is a transition; no one is anticipating that on November 1, there will be an  automatic stoppage of smoking.  Our best efforts are through education and implementing the policy." stated Hohl.
Looking at the policy in a positive light, Hohl expressed, "We are going to have to take a watch-and-see approach.   It's a dynamic situation, and if we are too rigid in it, it won't be a success."

Sharika Williams, Criminal Justice student was out for a smoke on the side of the Main Building of the Downtown Campus with her friend Natasha Lewis, Surgical Tech student and non-smoker.  Williams will be celebrating her 21st birthday in October, "I know it's not worth the consequences to light up on campus; I am trying to quit smoking by my birthday."  While watching her friend smoke and chat, Lewis stated, "Consider all you have saved in cigarettes, you'll end up saving more money."  When you look at all the benefits of quitting, saving money would be a plus mainly if you're a student.
Students had the opportunity on Wednesday, October 3, at the West Allis campus to see a hypnotist for five dollars in order to assist in quitting smoking.  

On October 19, Downtown, Mequon, and Oak Creek campuses will have tables set up with information available for students with resources in their community to aid in their wellness in quitting.  Check with the Student Life office at any of the campuses to get more information should you need guidance in quitting.
MATC becoming tobacco-free won't happen overnight and in the coming days more awareness will be brought to students, staff, and community about this change.  

Richard Dries, Director of Sustainability and Environmental Safety, was not available for a comment in regards to the new signage that would be posted throughout the campuses.  Be observant; they will be coming soon.
Private vehicles (not leased by MATC) can be a haven for smokers; you must keep the tobacco in the vehicle and not discard on school grounds.  If you're going to smoke, clean your ashtrays at home and roll up the window so that the person parked next to you won't inhale your fumes.

Cultivating a tobacco-free campus is one of the new changes for 2013.  Until November 1, think of ways to treat yourself to a life tobacco-free.  With less smoke in the air, students can breathe in the success of graduating.


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