Tobacco task force gets $25,000

AJ Thurman | Collegio Reporter

The university’s task force to study a campus-wide ban on tobacco discussed problems and challenges it might face during its first meeting Nov. 8 in the Wilkinson Alumni Center.
“We received our char

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ge from President (Steve) Scott, heard a presentation from a consultant, Ty Patterson, on the issues, processes and challenges the task force will face as it moves forward,” said Jim Triplett, biology professor and co-chair of the group. “The decisions we made centered around developing a plan and how to proceed.”
The university recently received a $25,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to support its study of the feasibility of making the campus tobacco free.
“For decades now, research has continually connected many serious health consequences to the use and exposure of tobacco products,” Steve Coen, president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation, was quoted as saying in a Wednesday university press release. “We are pleased to support Pittsburg State in its efforts to protect the health and wellness of its students, faculty and staff through the development of effective tobacco prevention policies.”
Scott organized the task force following a student referendum in the spring that indicated support for a tobacco-free campus.
“Our students made their views on this matter clear,” said Scott. “As a university, we should honor their vote by carefully exploring what tobacco policies are right for the campus. I’m looking forward to receiving the final report from our task force.”
 PSU’s Tobacco Policy Task Force will review current policies of the university and its peers regarding tobacco, engage with campus stakeholders and identify benefits and disadvantages to implementing a tobacco-free policy.
Triplett says the task force is not in charge of implementing a tobacco ban.
“Our job is assessing the issues surrounding keeping the current tobacco policy or looking at a more progressive one,” he said.
The plan of the tobacco task force is to research and gather information on the issues surrounding tobacco, then share the findings with the university community and evaluate the opinions, perceptions and concerns of the various groups within the university and surrounding area.
“In order to initiate the first phase (fact finding),” Triplett said, “each member of the task force was asked to select an issue to research and develop for presentation to the task force.”
Some of the issues include effects of second-hand smoke, tobacco compliance and enforcement, effects of smoking in the work place, and tobacco-free campus policies.
Currently, there are 825 smoke-free campuses in the United States. Of those, 608 are completely free of tobacco, including in residential housing.
A final draft of the group’s conclusions is to be preented to Scott by May 2013.
The task force, also headed by Rita Girth, operations director of the Bryant Student Health Center, includes two students, Kafui Alomenu and Ashley Hedden. Alomenu is a member of the Student Government Association (SGA), and Hedden is a graduate student.
Last spring, students voted online in favor of making the campus tobacco-free.

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