California State University, Long Beach
Inside CSULB Logo

It’s Time To “Breathe”

Published: February 15, 2016

With the announcement of the soon-to-be launched Breathe Campaign last October, CSULB took its first public step toward creating a tobacco- and smoke-free campus.

Now, during the spring semester, the Breathe Campaign has moved into phase one of its efforts to promote public awareness of the health risks associated with tobacco use and exposure to smoke, including that produced by vapor cigarettes.

“Everything we’re doing right now is to saturate the campus with this Breathe Campaign so everyone is aware it is coming. And, the publicity generated by the campaign makes it easier for our advocates to go across campus and do their job,” said Health Sciences’ Claire Garrido-Ortega, who heads up the campaign along with Health Care Administration’s Natalie Whitehouse-Capuano.

Initially, 15 students from CSULB’s Health Science Department have been trained as advocates to proactively educate the campus community regarding the new policy, as well as educate about the availability of free smoking and tobacco cessation services provided by the university.

“We’ve trained our Breathe advocates to be compassionate and professional and, so far, individuals they have approached have reacted positively and say they have seen the Breathe Campaign,” added Garrido-Ortega. “A lot of them are excited because they realize there will be free cessation services available to them.”

The new policy applies to the entire campus, including parking lots. In addition, Blair Field is covered by the policy, though it is affected by a state law which prohibits smoking at public sports facilities.

Though getting the campus to become tobacco- and smoke-free is something the two CSULB lecturers have worked toward for more than a decade, their efforts picked up speed following a 2015 survey where more than 75 percent of respondents—students, staff, faculty and administrators—supported CSULB becoming a tobacco- and smoke-free institution. Whitehouse-Capuano stated that approximately 12 percent of Californians smoke. That percentage is similar on campus, though interestingly, many of those choose not to smoke while at school, according to Whitehouse-Capuano.

As part of phase one of the campaign, lawn stakes with Breathe Campaign signs will be dispersed around campus in waves, and kiosks in Brotman Hall have the campaign logo as a home screen, as do computers in numerous labs.

The main campaign image itself is seen as a positive, as opposed to the standard “No Smoking” sign with a lit cigarette circled and a line through it.

“This is a positive step for everybody on campus,” said Whitehouse-Capuano, who noted it’s expected to take about three years for the whole campus to incorporate the policy change. “This is really a two-sided campaign. We want to help people who use tobacco to quit while at the same time protect those who do not smoke. For the first three years, we are just going to focus on the positive awareness of the campaign and the free services being offered.”

Additional campaign exposure will come through BeachBoard, the e-learning management system used by faculty members; 26” x 40” poster signs, that will be framed and placed in high-traffic areas on campus; informational cards listing free smoking and tobacco cessation services at the university that advocates will be handing out; signage on campus shuttles; and a slide show at SOAR orientation for incoming students.

Also, Breathe Campaign buttons will be provided at outreach events, three-sided table signs will be placed outside various dining areas and made available to any department on campus, and the 7th Street marquee will highlight the efforts. There will also be campaign information displayed in the University Student Union and Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

Breathe advocates are working on a toolkit to provide resources for people who smoke, including a page of mobile apps to help them quit; and videos will be posted on the Breathe website on how supervisors can approach an individual to inform them about the new policy.

The biggest physical change taking place during the campaign will be the removal of all the ash cans across campus, of which there are approximately 113.

“The whole implementation plan is in phases,” said Whitehouse-Capuano, “So, prior to enacting the new policy we are trying to increase awareness. This way, when people come back to school in the fall they’re not shocked that all of a sudden the campus is tobacco- and smoke-free. By then we’ve saturated the campus to let everyone know about the new policy.”