by Stacy Harada
News@UH December 6, 2004
Two and a half years ago, Mark A. Levin, associate professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law, helped establish the Community Partnership for Health and Fresh Air to clear the air on UH campuses. CPHFA developed the UH Tobacco Products Policy, which defines UH's no-smoking areas to prevent unwanted exposures to tobacco smoke pollution, prevents the marketing of tobacco products on university campuses and offers guidance programs for smokers who wish to quit.
"Tobacco smoke pollution has been shown to be not just a long-term health risk. Even short-term exposures can be seriously harmful,” says Levin.
Levin has worked with the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society on global tobacco policy concerns and with Japanese lawyers and activists on tobacco control policy in that country. His focus on UH's policy began after he and Manoa Professor of Medicine Elizabeth Tam attended the 2000 World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Chicago. “We decided that as we worked on statewide, national and international tobacco control issues, we had a responsibility to work for an up-to-date tobacco control program at the University of Hawai‘i,” he says.
Subsequent CPHFA accomplishments include a public relations campaign recognized with a first-prize Koa Anvil award by the Public Relations Society of America’s Hawai‘i chapter. CPFHA, presently guided by UHM Health Services’ Kristen Scholly, developed this fall’s Protect the Zone posters and is working with the UH administration to consider how to boost the effectiveness of the current policy.
The environment for non-smokers on campus has improved, and I’m especially pleased that UH has established cessation support for smokers who want to quit,” says Levin. There’s still room for progress. For smokers who don’t want to quit, having designated smoking areas can clarify boundary lines. And we’re still paying too high a cost for cleaning up hundreds of cigarette butts daily.”
Why does he press on? “Tobacco represents a preventable tragedy of our times,” Levin explains. “People die. Families suffer. Unlike with most disease vectors, these losses don’t have to happen. Tobacco affects our community at UH and it affects millions of people around the world.”
For more information, visit UH’s smoking policy website.