Soon to be tobacco-free?
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The tobacco-free campus proposal that was started four years ago by ASEWU, is one step closer to a decision by the Board of Trustees.
An open forum was held on Wednesday in Tawanka Hall for students, faculty and staff of the EWU community to express concerns or questions relating to the proposed policy change.
Representatives from grounds and maintenance, health, wellness & prevention services, human resources, student rights and responsibilities, student health and safety services and university police were present at the forum to answer questions.
About 40 students and staff were in attendance to share their opinions. Most of the students and staff at the forum were proponents of a possible future smoke free campus, but a couple students spoke out against changing the current policy.
There is a mix of policies in place among other campuses in the state. Washington State University and the University of Washington have tobacco-free campus policies. However, Gonzaga University and Whitworth University do not have tobacco-free policies. Spokane Falls College has designated smoke areas on the boundaries of campus.
Ashley Jenniges, ASEWU council representative for student health and services, spoke at the beginning of the forum as she is responsible for submitting the proposal to the Board of Trustees. Jenniges began the forum with a statement.
“Four or five years ago years ago, [ASEWU] started working towards having a healthier campus for students,” said Jenniges.
Furthermore, Jenniges talked about two of the elections that have been completed in the past four years. According to a report released by ASEWU, 82 percent of EWU’s student body said they would support a tobacco/smoke-free campus. Out of the 1017 votes that were received, 76 percent said secondhand smoke on campus bothers them.
As of today, the smoking policy on campus prohibits smoking inside 25 feet of any building entrance. EWU officials say they are in compliance with the state.
“Our current model is based off state law,” said Tricia Hughes, EWU’s health and wellness director.
Another topic that was addressed at the forum was the resources available to quit if the new policy is passed.
“There are many resources on campus for students to help them quit,” Hughes said.
Karen Wichman, director of Facility Services, said the cleaning of tobacco byproducts that are thrown onto the campus is “time consuming” to clean up on a daily basis.
The issues does not appear to be a problem for the EWU police department. EWU police officer Jose Villasano, who spoke at the forum, said, “It’s very seldom that we issue citations for the current smoking policy.”
Chelsea Goss, policy administrator at EWU, told the forum that the Board of Trustees will have two readings of the policy proposal. The first reading will be in May.
The Board will decide if the policy is worthy of a vote at a second reading to be held in June and will ultimately have the final say on whether or not the tobacco free proposal becomes university policy.
The Board declined a vote on the tobacco free proposal last time a policy was submitted, but Jenniges said, “There is a lot of student and faculty in favor of the proposal which is needed for the boards support.”
Jenniges said she is confidence that the proposal will pass.
“I think it has a really good chance.”