Students, faculty react to new TSUS policy banning tobacco use
Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Updated: Saturday, June 23, 2012 23:06
A new campus-wide tobacco policy has been put into effect that prohibits the use of all tobacco products on Sam Houston State University grounds.
The policy went into effect June 1 and bans the use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco and all other tobacco products, and applies to all students, faculty, staff, employees of contractors and visitors of SHSU.
According to the policy, prohibited areas include classrooms,offices, restrooms, meeting rooms, indoor or open-air athletic facilities (including Bowers Stadium, Baseball/Softball Stadiums and Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum), performance halls, and all other spaces in university-owned or leased buildings or vehicles.
In compliance with the policy, the circumstances and places in which tobacco may be used are:
- By artists or actors who participate in authorized performances that require tobacco products as a part of the artistic production.
- Participants in academic research projects involving tobacco products are exempt from this tobacco policy if approved by the institutional review board on human subjects and the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.
- At the Raven Nest Golf and Gibbs Ranch facilities.
Everyone will be able to smoke in personal vehicle
According to an email sent by President Dana Gibson, “the policy has been implemented to be in compliance with The Texas State University System Board of Regents Rules and Regulations[.]“
In case of a violation of the policy, it is stated within that “the observer should report the violation to the appropriate management official which may include persons such as supervisors, program coordinators, directors, vice presidents, professors, department chairs, deans, residence hall directors, building liaisons, or university police.”
The consequences for the policy seem rather lax.
“Violators will be asked to stop,” Deputy Chief James Fitch of the University Police Department said. “It’s not a law, it’s a policy violation. They’re not going to receive a citation or go to jail.”
If a violator continues to use a tobacco product the result is similar.
“If it’s a student violating they will be advised to their dean of students,” Fitch said. “If it’s faculty or staff they will be referred to their department head.”
The policy itself states, “if the violator refuses to adhere to this policy, the observer should report the violation to the appropriate management official which may include persons such as supervisors, program coordinators, directors, vice presidents, professors, department chairs, deans, residence hall directors, building liaisons, or university police.”
Members of the Faculty Senate seem bothered by their role of inclusion in reprimanding offenders.
“There was general concern about enforcement and whether or not faculty would be responsible” according to Faculty Senate minutes from November. “It was recommended that ‘professors’ be removed from the list as to whom one should report smokers.”
One Faculty Senate member expressed their discontent because of the newly added responsibility of the policy.
“I'm incredibly annoyed that the policy states that professors will be one of the groups of people "policing" the campus,” commented Sheryl Murphy-Manley, Ph. D, on Facebook. “The Faculty Senate explicitly asked the upper administration to take this out of the policy, and they didn't.”
The meeting’s minutes described that the purpose of the policy was to “save money on insurance since allowing tobacco use on the campus implied that ‘everyone’ on campus smoked and insurance premiums would be based on this assumption. This increased premium could perhaps be double what it is currently. If the new Smoke-Free Campus Policy is not implemented, the faculty may have to pay the difference in the higher premium.”
Smoke-free rather than tobacco-free seems more fitting to students. Many commented about how many smoke is what bothers them, rather than smokeless tobacco.
“I’m okay with the policy,” senior mass communication major Jessica Smith said. “I’m happy as long as I’m not breathing in secondhand smoke.”
SHSU is the last of the eight schools in the Texas State University System to implement a tobacco policy.
Other universities in Texas have tobacco policies, including UT at Austin and Texas A&M. UT’s policy is totally tobacco-free as of April in adherence to Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) policy. CPRIT grants money to UT, and the university would have lost some of the funding without compliance. A&M is a smoke-free, not tobacco-free.
When asked if SHSU would be looking to receive grants and award money form CPRIT, Julia May, the Associate Director of Communications and
Public Information Officer, said that it’s possible that the university will look into getting these types of funding in the future.
Students have varied opinion regarding the tobacco policy.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” senior management major Kevin Shaver said. “I don’t think smoking outside is going to hurt anybody.”