President Bob Davies emphasized the University’s wellness goals involved in the tobacco-free policy during a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Davies discussed the origins and educational goals of the tobacco ban. A large portion of the meeting was dedicated to explaining how policy violations will be handled. The president noted that the Tobacco-Free Implementation Steering Committee kept the overall goal of wellness in mind while discussing enforcement of this policy.
“I am taking the philosophy that we want this to be educational, not punitive,” Davies said. “We don’t want smoking on campus to be equated to a parking fine.”
Davies recognized that other universities use punishments to enforce their tobacco-free policies, citing Vanderbilt’s method of fining those who violate the tobacco policy. He stated that this could, however, take the focus away from education.
Davies stressed that the policy is intended to help create a healthy environment for the Murray State community and the change is “not judgmental” toward tobacco users.
The committee is considering different methods of enforcement. Suggestions include an online reporting system similar to those used by University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky. In addition, faculty and staff such as residential advisers will be trained on how to approach violators and will play an important role in reinforcing the policy.
“It is the community chain of enforcement that I am relying on to enforce this policy,” Davies said.
Davies also said that he has received few negative responses from students about this policy change and has felt encouraged by the positive feedback from students.
The policy, set to be in effect Aug. 5, 2015, will add Murray State to the list of more than 1,000 tobacco-free schools in the nation.
The Board of Regents is set to vote on the policy Feb. 27. Davies encouraged the Murray State community to continue expressing feedback and concerns about the policy change.
Story by Lucy Easley, Contributing writer