Alaska Pacific University goes smoke and tobacco free

Anchorage-based Alaska Pacific University went smoke- and tobacco-free Monday, banning the use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookahs and chewing tobacco in all APU buildings as well as on university grounds, trails and parking lots.

Dr. Bob Onders, interim APU president, said the policy change was first proposed by a student as part of her senior project. Faculty and staff then approved the proposal, followed by the Board of Trustees in May. The ban officially went into effect at the small, private college Monday.

"As a physician and University President, I cannot emphasize enough education's impact in improving individual, family, and community health," Onders said in a statement Monday. "As a physician, I have also seen the devastating health effects of tobacco first hand. Today, APU, as an institute of higher education, will become a smoke and tobacco free campus."

Under APU's new policy, the use of tobacco is banned almost everywhere on campus including university-owned buildings, parking lots, driveways, loading docks, shuttle bus stops and sidewalks. The policy doesn't apply to personally owned cars parked or driven on APU property, according to the university.

APU is defining tobacco use as any "inhaling, smoking, sniffing, chewing, dipping, or any other assimilation of tobacco products." Onders said marijuana use is also banned at APU under a separate policy.

By going smoke- and tobacco-free, Onders said APU is joining its neighbors in the University-Medical District, including the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Southcentral Foundation. It's also joining more than 1,900 colleges campuses across the country that have enacted 100 percent smoke-free or tobacco-free policies, he said.

In December 2014, the University of Alaska Board of Regents approved a smoking ban across its campuses.

Tegan Hanlon

Tegan Hanlon was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News between 2013 and 2019. She now reports for Alaska Public Media.