Further approval needed for smoke-free campus

Caitlin Carter

While smokers in the Bowling Green community may not be able to light up in their favorite restaurants or bars soon, those on WKU’s campus may not be able to smoke at all.

The University Senate passed a resolution, 39-13, in December to eventually stop tobacco use on campus.


President Gary Ransdell said he needs input from other governing bodies before a final decision is made.

“I have indicated to the University Senate, Staff Council and student government that when I get a resolution from all three supporting a campus-wide smoking ban that I’ll support one,” Ransdell said. “But I don’t want to get out in front of any of those groups, nor do I want to unilaterally dictate what we do in that regard, because it involves everybody.”

Jim Fulkerson, co-chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee, said previously the resolution outlines a plan to gradually get rid of tobacco use on campus in order to make WKU a healthier institution.

“There have been so many issues with smoking that affect all faculty and students,” he said.

Fulkerson said he e-mailed a survey about smoking to all WKU faculty, staff and students last March.

The results contributed to the resolution, he said.

Fulkerson said that according to the survey, about 71 percent of the 3,231 respondents said they favored a total tobacco ban on campus.

The resolution includes one year of having designated smoking areas on campus before the full ban would take effect in spring 2012.

Ransdell said that making WKU smoke-free would affect many people, so it should be carefully considered.

“We have a lot of people who smoke on this campus — students and faculty and staff,” Ransdell said. “So it’s not an insignificant matter.”

Ransdell said he wants to be careful when using smoke-free language regarding WKU’s campus.

He said he doesn’t know if WKU would unanimously adopt a policy that bans smoking everywhere.

“We have a lot of visitors that come to our campus in large numbers,” Ransdell said. “So we’re not going to have the smoke police out there looking for cigarette butts. Whatever we have to do has to be reasonable.”

Other Kentucky universities, such as the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville, have successfully adopted smoke-free policies.

Both campuses became completely tobacco-free on Nov. 19, 2009, along with more than 300 others across the nation, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, according to its website.

An ordinance regulating smoking in public and work places in Bowling Green passed in its first reading, 3-2, at last week’s city commission meeting.

First placed on the agenda by Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash in 2007, he said he created the ordinance with people in mind — even though they may not agree with it.

Mayor Elaine Walker said that a recent poll shows that around 70 percent of people who live in Bowling Green want a smoking ban and would like to see the local government enact it.

“Just like this, government enacts regulations to control asbestos and the way that restaurants treat their food,” Walker said. “They’re enacted to protect the health of our citizens.”

A second reading of the ordinance was heard during a special session of the city commission last night, just five days before Walker will be sworn in as Kentucky’s secretary of state.

The ordinance was expected to pass and be enacted in 90 days.

Due to deadline constraints, the Herald could not include results from last night’s vote. Check wkuherald.com for more on the meeting.