Tobacco’s hazy future

Gretchen Burns | Collegio Reporter

Last spring, the Student Government Association asked students to vote on making the campus tobacco-free. A majority of the students who voted said they wanted to make the campus tobacco-free, but making this a reality will not happen immediately.

“Although the tobacco-free campus was on the SGA ballot, the final act is not up to the SGA,” said Sydney Ward, vice president of SGA. “We got it started, now we’ve recommended it to the president’s office.”

SGA’s involvement could include creating a tobacco-free committee that would help President Steve Scott, and a possible university task force, make various decisions.

Scott says he considers a tobacco-free campus to be a high priority for the university.

“The students have made a very strong opinion that they wish to have a tobacco-free campus,” Scott said. “We as a university need to honor that student perspective and put it into a process.”

The process Scott is talking about is the time and work needed to make PSU tobacco-free.

Scott says he has begun looking into getting money from grants to pay for a smoke and tobacco-free campus.

Scott says that planning for this could take a while and may involve hiring a person from outside the university to take charge, and creating a task force to implement it. He says another cost might come from installing educational facilities that would provide support for students, faculty and staff who smoke. Scott says classes could be set up to help people quit smoking.

Pittsburg State University is not the first university to work toward a tobacco-free campus.

Elle Walker says she supports the student vote to create a tobacco-free campus.

“I personally hate walking around campus and having to breathe in the secondhand smoke. I know people say, ‘Well, if you don’t like it then don’t walk next to someone who is smoking,’ but I think that is dumb,” said Walker, sophomore in communication. “I shouldn’t have to change my route to class or randomly have to start sprinting to get away from someone who is smoking. Also, sometimes you can’t avoid it, like when they are smoking right next to the doors.”

Other students like Bekah Orendac say that the tobacco ban is a violation of a person’s right to smoke.

“I don’t agree that they are taking away the right for people to smoke,” said Orendac, junior in psychology. “I do think that something can be done differently, like setting aside certain smoke areas.”

The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation states that, as of July 1, there are 774 campuses across the nation that are 100 percent smoke-free. Of those campuses, 562 have a 100 percent tobacco-free policy.

A 100 percent tobacco-free campus is exactly what Scott is pushing for.

“Tobacco-free means exactly that,” Scott said. “That means no chewing tobacco, no smoking in vehicles or anywhere on campus.”

Scott says as a tobacco-free campus, students, faculty or staff wishing to smoke would need to leave campus. He says there would not be any designated areas set up for smokers on the grounds.

According to Scott, university and college campuses are not the only places creating tobacco-free zones. Via Christi hospital in Pittsburg has created a tobacco-free atmosphere on its grounds.

“We need to push toward wellness and fitness here at PSU,” Scott said. “When a person who is 18 to 24, they can develop habits that can either extend your life or shorten it. We need to create an environment where people can accept a healthy lifestyle.”

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