Four months later, SHSU tobacco policy still not enforced
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 01:09
Four months after it began, the tobacco ban on Sam Houston State University still has no enforcement compared with other TSUS schools.
Instead of providing enforcement, the policy expects SHSU community and visitors to voluntarily comply; if they don’t, an observer can choose to report the incident to the “appropriate management official,” such as a professor, a department chair, a residence hall director, or a UPD officer. That management official may or may not decide to do anything about it.
“All we’re expected to do is if we want to, just if we want to, to say something: ‘did you know this is a smoke-free campus?’ and leave it at that,” said Tracy Steele, Ph.D., Faculty Senate Chair.
At other universities in the system, the policies are being enforced more.
Texas State University sends repeat violators to their respective supervisor. Students go to the dean of Students, faculty to the Office of the Provost, staff to the appropriate vice president, and visitors to the University Police.
SHSU’s policy mentions no explicit punishment for non-compliance.
“All members of the university community and visitors to the SHSU campus shall be responsible for compliance with this policy,” the policy states. “It is expected that all individuals will voluntarily comply with the spirit and intent of this policy.”
UPD Deputy Chief James Fitch said there isn’t much university police are able to do to stop the problem.
“Worst case scenario, we can ask people to put it out,” Fitch said. “Then if it’s a visitor to campus, something like that, we might ask them to leave campus, but the majority of the time we’re just going to ask them to comply with it.”
The President’s Cabinet approved the new policy at the beginning of June, after a decision from the Texas State University System’s Board of Regents was passed down to all eight institutions in the system.
The Board of Regents added the tobacco policy to their Rules and Regulations during their quarterly board meeting in May 2011, and they gave each institution a year to get a policy in place.
The purpose of SHSU’s policy states that “in order to promote a healthy, safe, and aesthetically pleasing work, educational, and living environment, SHSU will endorse a smoke free and tobacco free environment…tobacco products are not permitted on campus including University-owned or leased buildings or vehicles.”
According to the Faculty Senate meeting minutes from Nov. 10, 2011, the policy was put in place to save money on insurance premiums for faculty and students on the university’s insurance plan. To Blue Cross Blue Shield, the university’s new insurance provider, allowing tobacco use on campus would been seen as marker that everyone on campus is a smoker. If the policy was not implemented, insurance premiums could have been double what they are, and members of the plan would have to pay the difference.
A lot of students aren’t exactly bothered that the policy isn’t being enforced. SGA voted shortly before the Faculty Senate meeting that they would not support the ban, with only five senators voting in favor of the policy.
“I think it’s a good policy,” said junior Monty Sloan. Sloan was enjoying a cigarette outside the Dan Rather building when he said this, and had also noted that no one had said anything to him regarding his smoking on campus.
“I have no issues with it whatsoever, I just think that if they want to enforce something like that we should have designated smoking areas so that non-smokers can be happy not being around smoke and that smokers have somewhere they can go to smoke a cigarette and still make it between their classes.”
Universities like the University of Southern Mississippi add designated smoking areas to maps of the campus to allow members of the university and visitors to smoke there, but in no other areas.
Currently, there are no plans to change the SHSU tobacco policy.