The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 23, 2013

Pittsburg State clears the air over smoking on campus

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pittsburg State University is moving closer to being a smoke-free campus. It would be the 14th Kansas educational institution to do so.

In the spring of 2012, a student referendum suggested 77 percent approval of such a policy, prompting President Steve Scott to form a tobacco policy task force. This spring, after a study gathered input from students, faculty and staff, the task force recommended that the campus be tobacco free.

During his annual opening remarks to faculty and staff last week, Scott announced that the final step is on the horizon.

“This thoughtful proposal has generated a lot of interest, and I’d even say, excitement,” Scott said. “Upon review by the President’s Council and by me, there is clearly an interest in accepting this recommendation and moving forward with its implementation.”

Scott said PSU/K-NEA leaders believed, and the administration agreed, that the policy could only be adopted through the meet-and-confer process. He said the administration had asked PSU/K-NEA to immediately begin conversations about how the policy can be advanced.

“Clearly, our belief in shared governance and our respect for the importance of the contract with the faculty drove us to arrive at this decision,” Scott said.

Opinions

Of those surveyed last year, 50 percent said making the campus smoke-free would not change whether they continued to work, go to school or attend events at PSU, while 34.6 percent said they’d be more likely to stay, 9.2 percent said they’d be less likely to stay, and 6.4 percent did not answer the question.

Forty-five percent said they were very likely to support such a policy, while 21 percent said they were very unlikely to support one. Most of that 21 percent, according to lead researcher Alicia Mason, an assistant professor in the Department of Communications, self-identified as tobacco users.

In their first week of the fall semester, PSU students offered mixed viewpoints in person on the proposed ban.

“I would support a ban. It would be healthier for everybody, and I think it would make the campus a lot nicer,” said Liza Erwin, a freshman.

Eric Seiwert, a senior, said he also agrees with a ban.

“While I have nothing against smokers personally, I do notice a lot of cigarette butts on the ground,” he said.

Dylan Plouvier and Michael Hagerty, both freshmen, said they don’t have a problem with people smoking on campus as long as it isn’t near entrances to buildings, and don’t believe a ban is necessary.

“It doesn’t really bother me, unless they are standing right next to me,” Plouvier said. “I don’t really think it’s necessary.”

Jessica Keys, a sophomore who identified herself as having been a smoker for 14 years, said she thinks the ban is “a great idea.”

“It doesn’t matter if you smoke or not, you know it’s not great for you to do it. It’s not a secret,” she said as she lit up outside the Overman Student Center between classes Wednesday. “The more restrictive it is, maybe you’ll be more likely to quit.”

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