Are you thinking about lighting up on campus?
In an effort to emphasize health and wellness, the Board of Regents voted to make Murray State a tobacco-free campus.
Since the decision was made in December 2014, the question is no longer whether going tobacco-free is the right move, but how to enforce this new policy.
Murray State is not the first college campus to make such a change. The University of Louisville, University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University have all modified their tobacco policies within the past five years to restrict the use of tobacco products on university grounds.
In 2010, the University of Louisville implemented its Smoke-Free Initiative. Karen Newton, director of its Health Promotion Office in Louisville, said it took time, but support for the policy gradually grew.
While those who support the policy tend to abide by it, enforcement still remains an issue. There are no repercussions if someone chooses to violate the policy, but Newton stated that the provost, Shirley Willihnganz, is investigating better methods of making sure the policy is implemented.
Eastern Kentucky and University of Kentucky have attempted to give students more power to enforce the tobacco-free policies by providing places to report violators.
Eastern Kentucky allows students to fill out an Online Tobacco Violation Report which asks for date, time and location of the violation and a description of the violator.
Some students report violations to the university, but others tend to approach violators directly. Tomas Garza, sophomore at the University of Louisville, said students, faculty and staff are trusted to speak up when they see smokers lighting up.
“Some students get annoyed when people smoke on campus, but only a handful will say anything,” Garza said.
Enforcement of the policy lies mostly with students, though Garza says some may feel uncomfortable asking people to stop.
Morgan Schweitzer, freshman at the University of Kentucky, stated that many people smoke outside of the dorms.
“Smoking on the main campus is banned, but people do it anyway,” Schweitzer said. She said certain areas of campus are known to be smoking areas, despite the tobacco-free policy.
Banning the use of tobacco on campus promotes wellness, but it does not address the addiction involved in tobacco use.
Many universities are taking steps to help students live a healthier lifestyle by providing resources that help students break the habit. University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky and University of Louisville offer smoking cessation programs for students who want help.
Judy Lyle, associate director of Health Services at Murray State, said the University has a number of programs available both on and off campus for students, faculty or staff members who want to quit using tobacco products.
Health Services provides access to programs such as Cooper/Clayton, Freedom From Smoking and Not On Tobacco.
Lyle said part of the goal of these programs is to emphasize the importance of wellness and support healthy living within the Murray State community.
“The campus needs to be a leader in health and wellness,” Lyle said.
As other universities have noted, the policy change will produce results, but not overnight.
“It does take time,” Newton said.
Story by Lucy Easley, Contributing writer