This fall, the Rhode Island College School of Nursing established a tobacco-free policy to become the first college in Rhode Island that has gone tobacco free, joining a growing number across the country. The move received the applause and appreciation of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Rhode Island Department of Health Director Dr. Michael Fine. On November 21, Healthy Communities Office and Tobacco Free Providence Director Peter Asen was present with Dr. Fine at RIC for a ceremony to celebrate the policy, and to present a citation from Mayor Taveras.
The policy was developed out of a student project and led by RIC Student Nursing Association (SNA) President Ericka Samoorian; SNA Treasurer Alicia Harris; and SNA Project Coordinator Alexandra Gadbois, all members of the class of 2014. The students worked to develop and conduct a survey of RIC nursing students which found that 87 percent of students would support the policy change. Nursing Dean Jane Williams worked with the students to institute the policy, believing it was the right move for the students’ health, as well as for their future careers, given that a growing number of health care facilities will not hire tobacco users, including Lifespan, the state’s largest employer of nurses.
The policy prohibits nursing students from using tobacco products on the campus or any time they are in a school of nursing uniform, in recognition of the important role of student nurses as providing positive examples of health promotion and healthy behavior.
Dean Williams reported at the ceremony that since the policy went into effect in September, she has not had a single student complaint.