UMaine, UMS campuses receive 2021 Breathe Easy awards

The University of Maine has received a 2021 Gold Star Standards of Excellence (GSSE) Gold Award in the Higher Education category from Breathe Easy Maine, an affiliate of the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence. Breathe Easy Maine’s mission is reducing exposure to secondhand smoke through promotion of impactful voluntary policies that discourage tobacco use, reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and support tobacco-free living throughout Maine.

Recipients of the GSSE awards are selected based on a set of 10 criteria that recognize multi-faceted tobacco use cessation and reduction efforts such as tobacco-free campus policies and a demonstrated commitment to enforcing those policies, education initiatives, tobacco treatment benefits for staff and students insured by the organizations’ group health plans, and a policy that prohibits the institution and sanctioned campus organizations from accepting donations of cash or merchandise from tobacco companies and retailers or the tobacco industry. Gold, silver and bronze awards acknowledge organizations that implement and follow evidence-based best practices for maintaining smoke and tobacco-free environments. UMaine received a 2021 gold award based on compliance with all 10 standards of excellence.

Other University of Maine System campuses recognized this year with a gold award include the University of Maine Fort Kent, the University of Maine Presque Isle and the University of Southern Maine. UMaine, the first campus in the System designated as smoke-free, launched its tobacco-free initiative on Jan. 1, 2011.

The Breathe Easy program, which offers the GSSE Awards annually, is funded by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services.