Task force assembled for campus tobacco ban

HEATHER MORSE | Evergreen reporter

It remains undetermined whether WSU will ban tobacco use on the Pullman campus.

Following a referendum that went to vote during the ASWSU elections in March, WSU assembled a task force of about 10 administrators responsible for implementing policies to support a tobacco-free campus.

The ban is intended to encompass the use of all tobacco products, but ASWSU President Jared Powell said WSU administrators may still deem it infeasible.

“There’s a wide variety of people who want to help see this through and share every concern they have with it,” said ASWSU Sen. Dakota Renz, who sponsored the bill last semester as a freshman delegate.

ASWSU senators are still providing feedback. Powell said the the task force won’t necessarily create a tobacco-free campus, but the students’ vote made that a goal. He said bureaucratic measures might slow the process.

“We didn’t want to assume that ASWSU knew what was best for the student body, and that’s why we wanted to write the referendum and put it up for student vote, so we could really see what the students actually did want out of that,” Powell said.

The vote represented 2,991 of 15,492 (19.3 percent) of eligible voters, which don’t include graduate students. It passed with nearly 60 percent of votes.

Powell was against an all-out ban, saying he didn’t want to put a strain on students who smoke.

“I don’t think that my opinion will play into it too much,” Powell said. “If anything, I’ll just be trying to look out for our students who use tobacco products and make sure we’re doing whatever we can to best represent them, while also moving toward a tobacco-free campus.”

If the WSU Board of Regents approves the ban next spring, policies supporting a tobacco-free campus will be expected by the fall 2015 semester.

Dwight Hagihara, the executive director of WSU Environmental Health and Safety, is organizing and leading the task force. Hagihara reports to Roger Patterson, the WSU vice president for finance and administration, who in turn reports to WSU President Elson S. Floyd.

WSU Police Chief Bill Gardner, another member of the task force, said failure to comply upon receiving a warning by police would be the only way someone could get a ticket for using tobacco.