Tobacco Ban May Still Go Up In Smoke

by Elizabeth Kostrub
Staff

Smoking on college campuses has become a hot topic, and as a result, officials on those campuses have begun to discuss what to do about the smoking on their grounds.

A committee was formed in September to decide whether a smoking ban will be enacted on Transy's campus.Transylvania University put together a committee in early September to do just that. Their goal? To decide what should be done about Transy’s current smoking policy. Committee members include sophomore Lindsey Jagoe, senior Dillon Quarles, Associate Dean of the College Dr. Kathleen Jagger, Dean of Students Mike Vetter, Director of Public Relations Sarah Emmons, groundsman David Ross, Director of Human Resources Jeff Mudrak and Dr. Mark Jackson, with Director of Wellness and Fitness Ashley Hinton-Moncer as the committee chair.

“We have a general plan for the upcoming semester with the steps including: first, a survey; second, education; [and] third, a written proposal either supporting or not supporting a tobacco-free campus,” said Ashley Hinton-Moncer. “The proposal is due Feb. 15 to President [Charles L.] Shearer.”

The first step – a campuswide survey – was distributed this week. The committee wants input from students, faculty and staff.

Transylvania is trying to create a healthier campus and part of that involves thinking about those who are affected by secondhand smoke. A 2007 Stanford University study brought to light that being “within a few feet of a smoker outdoors may expose you to air pollution levels that are comparable on average to indoor levels that we measured in previous home and tavern studies.”

The nonsmoking policy would also lead to Transylvania having a cleaner campus, as Hinton-Moncer cites in the introduction of the online survey. The amount of cigarette butts that were cleaned from the campus last year led to 660 pounds of waste.

Last semester the idea of turning Transylvania into a nonsmoking campus sparked debates across campus. By surveying everyone on campus, the committee will try to gain a better understanding of both sides of the debat.

The survey’s questions ask people about their smoking habits, what changes (if any) should be made to the current smoking policy, whether there should be punishments for breaking the policy rules and how effective they believe a new policy would be.

This survey will help the committee in creating a proposal and is very important to the process, according to
Hinton-Moncer. Last year some students voiced concerns that making Transylvania a nonsmoking campus would be taking away their right to smoke.

Hinton-Moncer said, however, that the purpose of creating a new policy, “is not to eliminate an individual’s right to smoke but to provide a healthier environment for those that do not smoke, and research shows the majority do not smoke.”

Transylvania would not be the first university to go smoke-free in Kentucky. According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation there are three others in the lead: Bellarmine University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville have already banned smoking on their campuses.
While much work and research is being done on the subject nothing is set in stone, Hinton-Moncer said.

“I will tell you that I do not know if this will even happen and if it does, I have no idea when or how, “ she added.

Research shows 28 percent of college students smoke; the CORE survey reported 24 percent of students on Transy’s campus do so (this does include social smoking).

Forty percent of smokers start in college, 70 percent of smokers wish they did not smoke and most smokers have tried to stop unsuccessfully. There are now over 400 universities that are tobacco-free; UK and Bellarmine will join that list in November. Centre too is starting to discuss the process of becoming tobacco-free.

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