Smoking phaseout plan to begin next semester

Smoking graphic

Marcel Mayo

The three-year phaseout of cigarettes and electronic cigarettes begins next semester. 

Last November, the Student Government Association senate voted on Resolution 11-14-F, Resolution to Support a Smoke Free Campus. However, the senate did not pass this resolution. 

Another resolution was introduced in January. On Feb. 3, SGA passed Resolution 1-15-S, Resolution to Support a Limited Smoking Campus, with a 13-11 vote.

The resolution passed after much debate, but as a result of SGA’s resolution, a smoking committee created an action plan to phase out smoking. 

The phaseout will occur over the course of three years and will also apply to e-cigarettes. 

During last Tuesday’s meeting, SGA President Jay Todd Richey said he had spoken with the SGA smoking committee representative Josh Knight about the phaseout plan.

Knight said the phaseout plan will occur over the course of three years. 

“It will probably start next semester,” he said.

In an email sent to all faculty and staff, President Gary Ransdell outlined background information and a plan of action that had been put together by an ad hoc committee he appointed made up of faculty, staff and students to study WKU’s smoking policies. 

In the email, he said WKU is the only public university in the state not to have implemented a “tobacco- and vapor-free campus policy” and that state health officials have been pressing the university to implement a policy that conforms to other schools in the state. 

“Our intent is to keep the campus healthy, safe, beautiful and sustainable,” Ransdell said in the email. 

During phase one, the campus will be limited to 12 designated smoking areas. 

Ransdell included a map of these areas in his email. They include Zacharias Hall, Meredith Hall, Pearce-Ford Tower, Tate Page Hall, Ransdell Hall, Downing Student Union’s service drive, Smith Stadium, Grise Hall’s lawn, the area by Facilities Management, the Valley, the Wetherby Administration Building, the Augenstein Alumni Center and the area between Snell Hall and the Engineering and Biological Sciences Building. 

During phase two, the campus will be limited to six designated smoking areas. 

By phase three, smoking will be banned on campus.

Knight said smoking creates secondhand smoke and other byproducts.

“Smoking is a health hazard; secondhand smoke is a big deal,” Knight said. “It’s always a ton of cigarette buds on the ground. It kind of gives off a dirty vibe to the campus.”

Richey said an ambassadorial program would be in place to help students remember which areas allow smoking and which areas do not. 

“The ambassadorial program would be composed of students who would be willing to approach people who are smoking on campus outside of designated areas,” Richey said.

Richey feels WKU’s being a smoke-free campus could benefit everyone at the university as a whole.

“I want to ensure that WKU is a safe and healthy place to live, work and learn,” Richey said.

Richey feels a smoke-free campus could bring more prospective students to WKU.

Richey made it clear SGA will not be enforcing this policy for the smoking committee. 

“The Student Government Association has no interest in being the organization that enforces this policy,” Richey.

Knight said the smoking committee will include programs that would help students, faculty and staff quit smoking. 

Knight also thinks this plan will not prevent those who wish to smoke from doing so.

“If a faculty member or a student really wants to smoke, they can walk off campus,” Knight said.

Andrew Rosa, assistant professor of African-American studies, said he agrees with the phaseout. 

“I’m for this 100 percent,” Rosa said.  “I think this is a great thing they’re doing. Hopefully by then [phase three], I’d quit smoking.”

Rosa also thinks this will not change the status of enrollment numbers for students.

“If a student really wants to smoke, then they can walk across the street from campus,” he said. “Hopefully that will motivate students to quit smoking.” 

Franklin sophomore Kara Perdue said she doesn’t think the phaseout will be effective. 

“I feel like if people want to smoke, then they’ll smoke,” Perdue said. 

Perdue said she probably will not follow the rules for the smoking phaseout plan.

“If I want to smoke a cigarette, then I’ll smoke a cigarette wherever I am,” Perdue said.