Tobacco task force reworks regulations

From staff reports

The Washington State Pullman Tobacco Free Advisory Task Force held a public forum last night to discuss last year’s tobacco-free campus referendum.

The task force, consisting of students, faculty and staff from the Pullman campus, was formed after ASWSU voted for a tobacco-free campus last March. During the 2014 fall semester, the task force surveyed WSU employees as well as graduate and professional students to hear their input on the referendum.

The surveys showed that 57 percent of graduate and professional students were against the tobacco-free campus. However, undergraduate students and university employees were both in favor of a tobacco-free campus. The survey results showed that 3,170 people would prefer a tobacco-free campus, while 1,921 people were opposed to the idea.

“The referendum was a catalyst for WSU Pullman,” said Dwight Hagihara, the executive director of Environmental, Health & Safety and Risk Management and the coordinator for the task force.

The task force submitted draft revisions for the Safety Policy and Procedures Manual (SPPM) and the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) for a tobacco-free Pullman campus.

The WAC addresses the health and safety regulations specific to WSU Pullman. The code grants the WSU Board of Regents authority to establish new rules and regulations regarding tobacco use on property owned, operated or maintained by the university.

The WAC also states, “Smoking or other tobacco usage is not permitted within the perimeter of WSU Pullman Property. Smoking Material must be extinguished and disposed of prior to entering WSU property or exiting a private vehicle. Improper disposal, including spitting smokeless tobacco or discarding cigarette butts on the ground or out of a vehicle is not permitted.” The WAC echoes the original ASWSU referendum aimed toward student’s well-being.

“We are trying to improve the health and safety of the people of WSU Pullman,” Hagihara said.

Revisions to the SPPM include information about university-sponsored tobacco use cessation programs.

“Health and Wellness can get students smoking aid and patches free of charge,” said Bruce Wright, the executive director of WSU’s Health and Wellness Services and a member of the task force. “From a health perspective, we hope this helps assist some people to stop smoking.”

Some students at the forum raised concerns about means of enforcement. A revision to the SPPM states, “Efforts to gain voluntary compliance should normally precede formal corrective actions when reasonable.” WSU students will ultimately be relying on each other as the main course of enforcement.

“This isn’t something where we want cops running out and tackling smokers,” said Bill Gardner, the executive director of Public Safety and a member of the task force. “The end goal isn’t to enforce this to death.”

Hagihara and Gardner both stated that they expect compliance, and cited the 1,500 plus campuses that have similar policies, which have been successfully enforced.

The WAC will be presented to the WSU Board of Regents this spring as a future action item on their March meeting’s agenda. The board will consider the WAC for adoption in May.

Reporting by Cole Campitello