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Butts burn out with administration

Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 21:02

It is no secret that East Tennessee State University’s tobacco-free campus policy implemented in 2008 has not been taken seriously by some people.

The main idea was to exclude smoking and all other tobacco usage on campus except in the confines of individuals’ personal vehicles.

The policy was applied to all university buildings and grounds; ETSU-affiliated, off-campus locations; and all ETSU facilities located on the Veterans Affairs campus, where the Quillen College of Medicine and the Gatton College of Pharmacy are located.

Lack of enforcement of the policy has been an issue for some people on campus. It is not uncommon to find cigarette butts on campus and to see smokers congregating outside some university buildings.

“The smoking policy is pointless,” senior Jasmine Sutton said. “People constantly violate it all the time.”

Senior Matthew Hickman said, “Clearly people don’t care. The short-term success isn’t good, but as a long-term policy I like it.”

 Last semester, the ETSU Tobacco-Free Policy Implementation and Compliance Task Force, headed by Associate Dean of Students Jeff Howard, was created to evaluate the policy.

The task force reviewed tobacco-related polices at other Tennessee Board of Regents schools and other universities, including Belmont University, Eastern Carolina University and the University of Kentucky.

After reviewing other universities’ policies, the task force made recommendations in the areas of marketing and awareness, enforcement and compliance, measurement of program success/failure and educational resources/cessation.

“We’re just really wanting to keep the topic of smoking out front for both staff and students,” said Renee Couch, associate director of student housing and a member of the task force.

“We were charged with developing strategies and putting together educational things to implement the plan to increase the campus’s awareness on the policy,” Couch said.

The task force set out to  develop strategies to promote awareness of the policy and available resources, to benchmark implementation plans and compliance strategies at selected tobacco-free institutions, and to develop an implementation plan and compliance strategies for the ETSU Tobacco-Free Policy.

Some students have recommendations of their own. Some believe that areas on campus should be set aside for smoking.

“I agree that smokers need designated areas to prevent them from being tempted to smoke in the most densely, populated places on campus,” Sutton said.

Some students believe that smoking will continue to be an issue on campus, however, it may not be as bad as it is now.

“I think as we promote a healthier, more active campus and the longer the policy stands, I think the less you will see people smoking publicly,” Hickman said. “It won’t completely stop, but areas for people to smoke will be harder to find.”

There are also students who stand behind the policy and believe that the campus should stick with what they aimed to do when the policy was first implemented.

“I fought so hard for this policy because ETSU prides itself on being a smoke free campus,” SGA Sen. Johnny Ahmeen said. “I don’t think we need any designated places on campus for smokers, that just takes away from our significance of being a smoke-free campus.”

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