May 31 2018 will be another occasion to celebrate the “Journée Sans Tabac” (Tobacco-free Day), and a university in Rennes is looking to continue the experiment. Rennes’ School for Advanced Studies in Public Health (EHESP) in Villejean intends to innovate its strategy by becoming the first tobacco-free campus.
According to Laurent Chambaud, EHESP should “lead by example,” especially since each year it trains future leaders in public health. Since 2015, the school has been engaged in anti-tobacco campaigns for addiction prevention. Since 2016, it has also participated in the “Moi(s) sans tabac” initiative, which encourages smokers to quit smoking for the entire month of November, if not permanently.
This initiative, which is new to France, has already seen significant success in the United States of America. Hopefully, it will be successful in Rennes and spread to other campuses in years to come. Although the president of the University of Rennes 2 finds the initiative interesting, he is sceptical about the possibility of bringing it to other campuses, which would require an unfailing commitment of institutions of higher education.
What will happen to smokers in Rennes?
Lest smokers worry, going cold turkey is not on the agenda, as there will be smoking areas off campus, away from university entrances. But there is currently no penalty for smoking on campus, as Laurent Chambaud prefers education to punishment.
Indeed, the goal is to help students and professors quit smoking. They will have fewer opportunities to smoke during the day. They will also be offered assistance in weaning themselves off of tobacco. For this, the EHESP is providing support with the help of nurses, tobacco therapists and sophrologists.
The goal of a tobacco-free campus isn’t to stigmatize smokers. It is rather to help them change their smoking habits and reduce consumption.