Western Herald – WMU recommends going tobacco-free as early as September 2014

WMU recommends going tobacco-free as early as September 2014

Meghan Chandler

Western Michigan University could become a tobacco-free campus as soon as September 2014 if the Board of Trustees follows the plan proposed at the July 18 meeting.

At the meeting, Amy Seth, chair of the committee heading the initiative to implement a tobacco-free policy, and Suzan Ayers, made several recommendations to the Board.

These recommendations come after the committee conducted three surveys. According to Ayers, the committee surveyed around 4,000 students, faculty and staff of WMU. The findings of the survey include:

  • Most survey participants don’t use tobacco
  • Most support transition to tobacco-free
  • Tobacco users uninterested in cessation programs through WMU

The first and ultimate goal of the committee is for WMU to be tobacco-free by Sept. 1, 2014. But to get to that point, Seth and Ayers provided several other recommendations:

  • Begin implementation planning phase this academic year, completed by April 2013
  • Retain current smoke-free policy during implementation.
  • Allow tobacco use in enclosed personal vehicles. According to Seth, 63 percent of survey respondents asked for this exception to the proposed tobacco policy.
  • Exceptions require approval by the Provost, VP for Business and Finance or VP for student affairs in consultation with the President.
  • Avail tobacco users of select free cessation services on campus for a one-year period, after which this component of the policy will be evaluated for effectiveness.
  • Include the ACHA (2009) guideline 1.d: “The sale [and/or use] of tobacco products and tobacco-related merchandise (including logo containing items) is prohibited on all university property and at university-sponsored events, regardless of operating vendor.”

Several students, university faculty and community members have expressed both support and opposition to such a policy. Students, such as those within Eta Sigma Gamma, and university departments, namely the health and human services department, have been pushing for a tobacco-free policy for four years.

“One thing I want to emphasize: We are not saying that you can’t smoke,” John Dunn, president of WMU, said. “We are saying that this environment is smoke free.”
Contact Meghan Chandler at herald-editor@wmich.edu or 269-271-3251. Follow her on twitter.

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