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Chancellor’s signature makes campus tobacco-free on July 1

Published February 7th, 2013

UW-River Falls will become tobacco-free on July 1, 2013. Chancellor Dean Van Galen signed off on the motion after approval from Student and Faculty Senate, along with the support of the Chancellor’s Task Force on a Campus Tobacco Policy.

The policy defines tobacco to include any lighted cigarette (such as clove, bidis, kreteks), cigars, pipes and hookah products; any smoking products (such as e-cigarettes); and any smokeless, spit or spitless, dissolvable or inhaled tobacco products including, but not limited to, dip, chew, snuff or snus in any form (such as orbs, sticks, pellet, etc.).

“This policy represents a significant step forward in creating a more healthy learning and work environment at UW-River Falls. As stated in the policy, ‘the success of this policy will depend on the courtesy, respect, and cooperation of users and non-users of tobacco products.’ In this spirit, I look forward to working with the campus community as we transition to a tobacco-free campus,” Chancellor Van Galen said.

The policy, which was signed by Van Galen on Dec. 18, 2012, states that “smoking or the use of other tobacco products is prohibited on all campus grounds (college owned, controlled, and/or leased); college owned or leased properties; and campus owned, leased or rented vehicles.”

This includes, but is not limited to, all University streets and sidewalks, parking lots, landscaped areas, outdoor athletic facilities and recreational areas; at lectures, conferences, meets and social and cultural events held on campus property or campus grounds. It is also prohibited in the interior of all buildings, including campus residence halls.

“It will definitely be a change for our conservative campus. It will be interesting to see how the students and public reacts,” said Student Senate President Bobbi O’Brien.

Student Senator Hannah Carlson voiced displeasure over the policy.

“Why do we always have to be concerned with what others are doing? I don’t smoke, but I don’t go around telling others to stop because it is my opinion,” Carlson said.  “I’ve been to smoke-free campuses and there are cigarette butts all over the sidewalks.”

Carlson was also concerned about the enforcement of the new policy.

The policy states that “enforcement of this policy will depend upon the cooperation of all faculty, staff and students to not only comply with the policy, but also to encourage others to comply in order to promote a healthy and clean environment in which to work, learn, and live.”

“It’s not a realistic plan. Peers are not going to confront one another or their professors if they are smoking,” Carlson said.

Keven Syverson, a member of the Chancellor’s Task Force on a Campus Tobacco Policy expressed more optimism in the enforcement of the policy, especially since it is supported by members of the campus community he said.

“At this point, enforcement will be voluntary. We know most campus members are law abiding citizens and want to follow the rules,” Syverson said. “We also know that 70 percent of students support a tobacco-free campus policy.  However, we know some may not choose to comply with this policy. That is not to say that more formal methods won’t have to be used on those who choose to repeatedly disobey the policy.”

The 70 percent Syverson is referring to is the results of a survey conducted by Senate via email to all UWRF students where 695 students responded last fall. Out of the 695, 487 said they would support a tobacco-free campus whereas 30 percent or 208 people did not.
The policy also says that UWRF “acknowledges and supports the findings of the Surgeon General that tobacco use in any form, active and passive is a significant health hazard.”
“We know this is an important step for the health of this campus and we look forward to July 1, 2013, when this policy is implemented,” said Syverson.

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