The air might seem cleaner on campus this semester thanks to the tobacco-free campus policy that went into effect July 1, 2013.
The policy restricts the use of all tobacco products, as well as hookah and “e-cigarettes,” and is peer-, faculty- and staff-enforced, meaning anyone can remind students using tobacco products on campus of the tobacco-free campus policy, according to Administrative Policy documents. The restriction extends to the perimeter of campus and includes streets and sidewalks that belong to UW-River Falls.
Keven Syverson, the health education coordinator for Student Health Services and a member of the Implementation Committee, said that fewer cigarette butts have been found on the grounds of campus since the implementation of the policy.
“That’s what our grounds people say. We’ve checked in with them and that’s what they’ve had to say so far,” Syverson said.
The Implementation Committee modeled the policy after other college campuses’ policies, especially UW-Stout, which has had a policy in place for four years. Syverson said there was a reduction in tobacco use on Stout’s campus after two years, which is a phenomenon he would like to see happen at UWRF.
“We want to see less people using tobacco,” Syverson said. “We have a lot of future teachers here, and they can’t use tobacco products on any high school campus they would work at.”
Aurora Butler, a senior at UWRF, has not changed her smoking habits in response to the new policy. She still smokes on campus, mostly because she says she is unsure of the perimeter of campus.
Butler also used to smoke outside Kleinpell Fine Arts near receptacles for cigarette butts, but now that they have been removed and there are no similar receptacles off campus, she is not sure where to dispose of the cigarette butts.
She said she has not noticed any enforcement of the policy, either.
“The only thing I’ve noticed with the policy is that there are more stickers up and that there are more people smoking toward the churches,” Butler said.
Syverson said that the Implementation Committee is monitoring the lack of trash receptacles in conjunction with Facilities.
“The Implementation Committee did talk about whether urns should be placed on the perimeters of campus or anything like that, but that’s almost creating smoking areas,” Syverson said.
Student Maureen Croak does not use tobacco products, and she has also noticed people smoking on campus this semester. She lives in a residence hall and has noticed residents smoking on the curb of Cascade Avenue.
“When people smoke, they go just barely outside of campus, and when you are driving, you do not see them because they are sitting on the curb,” Croak said. “It’s really dangerous.”
Syverson said that he would like to see fewer people addicted, because tobacco is a powerful addiction.
“A lot of college students say ‘I’ll quit when I’m done with college, when there’s less stress.’ Well, we all know stress continues throughout life, maybe our stressors change, but we always have stress,” Syverson said. “We hope to see a reduction in tobacco use rates and also a healthier campus.”
Student Health Services offers many ways to quit using tobacco products, including Quit Packs for students. Visit www.uwrf.edu/tobaccofreecampus for more information.