Smoking ban to remain voluntary policy

WKU’s Student Government Association was expected to enforce the new phaseout plan for smoking; however, SGA is unwilling to do so.

SGA will not be able to assemble an ambassadorial program to handle the ban as previously planned, according to SGA President Jay Todd Richey.

“We had a representative from Tobacco-free UK [University of Kentucky] come and speak about their transition to a tobacco-free campus,” Richey said. “We learned UK actually pays ambassadors to enforce the policy, and they are required to report student violators to the dean of students.”

WKU’s efforts to ban smoking on campus have been compared to the University of Kentucky’s similar policy enacted in 2009. UK’s smoking ban is a campuswide project led by former university president Lee Todd according to Ellen Hahn, the co-chairwoman of UK’s Tobacco-free Taskforce.

“The ban was started from efforts by our medical center and was eventually supported by students, faculty and housing staff,” Hahn said. “It became a campuswide project for the university.”

After SGA met with UK’s representative on Jan. 20, questions arose about WKU’s compatibility with the policy model. Members were concerned by UK’s use of campus employees to monitor the campus and prevent smoking.

“Our tobacco-free ambassadors on campus used to be volunteers and students,” Hahn said. “We quickly learned that ambassadors needed to be part-time employees that weren’t always students.”

At this time, SGA seems unwilling to follow this path in enforcing the phaseout plan, according to Richey.

“I realize President Ransdell’s email said SGA would assemble a ‘cadre of students,’ but SGA has no intention on actually being the group that enforces this,” Richey said. “I would also like to say that I disagree with the new smoking, tobacco and vapor ban, but as student body president, I will adhere to it if that was the decision made.”

The plan of action for the time being will be various signs promoting voluntary compliance of the policy without punitive measure.

The three-year phaseout plan is expected to make WKU smoke-free by Jan. 1, 2018.