EHL is committed to smoke-free spaces

EHL Hospitality Business School was founded in 1893 and has become one of the world's leading “hospitality business” schools, training several thousand hotel management specialists every year. While quality is one of the school's central concerns, the safety and well-being of our community is also a priority. Thus, a number of initiatives have been taken, including committees and processes that can be found on all our campuses. Among the initiatives currently underway is the transformation of our Lausanne campus into a smoke-free space.

from Mélanie Chibani, EHL Health & Wellness Coordinator

The figures behind the problem

The growing supply of nicotine products in different forms, as well as their attractive presentation, is leading to smoking becoming commonplace among adolescents who, with age, then turn to more traditional products such as conventional cigarettes. Physical and social addiction has not decreased, despite this diversification of the consumption of nicotine products. The percentage of the Swiss population that smokes has remained constant, at 28%, despite the increase in tobacco-prevention campaigns and actions. It is important to remember that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in most industrialised countries.

Today, nearly a third of young people aged 15 to 24 smoke, and 8% use electronic cigarettes or heated tobacco. This trend is on the rise. Primary prevention of smoking among young people is essential to having a long-term impact on the number of smokers in the population. Cantonal regulatory policies on advertising or sales are important, but preventative actions focused on the places where this segment of the population grows and develops are essential tools.

EHL’s role in prevention and health promotion

Smoking among young people is based on a large number of factors which may or may not encourage consumption. For many years, prevention has focused on the social aspects of health: the environment and social relations. As an academic institution, EHL Hospitality Business School, like other higher education institutions, has a role to play in these social aspects. By providing a supportive environment and promoting positive health behaviours within its community, the school contributes to improving the health of not only its own population, but that of the population as a whole. By making smoking less attractive and less socially accepted and tolerated, the impact is even greater.

Two courses of action have been identified and can be followed by other higher education institutions:

  1. The application of legislation to non-smoking areas of their campuses,
  2. The expansion of programs that have already proven effective in the general population.

These two avenues were discussed with EHL and here’s how they were applied.

Raise awareness, communicate, collaborate

First of all, an exchange took place with organisations expert in the field of smoking prevention, such as the specialised unit of the Canton of Vaud. Then the EHL health department worked with an expert to be supported in its project to set up smoking areas on its Lausanne campus and to organise a day of prevention focused on tobacco consumption.

Discussions took place with other departments within EHL to ensure good collaboration and internal cooperation for the project. Participating departments included health, security, and infrastructure and technical services, who together defined three different types of spaces on the Lausanne campus: smoking areas, non-smoking areas, and locations for bins to dispose of cigarette butts before entering campus. This collaborative approach allowed each department to fully participate in the decision of where to locate these areas. This also presented an opportunity to review ongoing problems such as cigarette-butt littering, second-hand smoke coming into windows, or fire risks, and to take these into account when taking decisions, particularly while defining the areas where smoking would be tolerated.


Photo: EHL Lausanne

Once the spaces had been identified and approved, it was necessary to develop the spaces, in particular by making them clearly identifiable and visible. The internal communications department created impactful visual identifiers. Posters were put in each area, as well as map stickers attached to the tobacco bins indicating the smoking areas. An article was also written for the EHL intranet site and included in newsletters to inform staff and students of these changes.

Internal alignment work was then carried out to ensure that various existing regulations and directives clearly and correctly stated that smoking was only allowed in designated smoking areas, and that smoking was absolutely not tolerated on the rest of the campus. Issues around enforcement and sanctions in the event of serious or repeated offenses were also clarified.

A process well underway

It should be noted that the development of the spaces is still in progress, the idea being to further improve these areas by installing, for example, protection against bad weather and comfortable benches, allowing each person who smokes to have access to a pleasant place and thus prevent them from moving to other places not intended for this purpose.

All stages of this project have made it possible to concentrate tobacco consumption into dedicated spaces only, and thus to generally reduce passive smoking on campus. Some steps are still to come that should allow people who smoke, as well as non-smokers, to feel even more comfortable on campus. More broadly, it would be interesting to offer regular awareness-raising days on the subject of smoking, and to improve support for people wishing to reduce or put an end to their consumption. A questionnaire has been developed in this regard and the responses collected should help to develop a better understanding of the habits and types of tobacco consumption practiced by people at EHL.



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