Tobacco ban success will depend on community effort

Right outside the doors of MBS you can find people smoking during most hours of the day. - Zayn Roohi / Photo Editor

Right outside the doors of MBS you can find people smoking during most hours of the day. – Zayn Roohi / Photo Editor

Grace Bieber / Sun Star

The tobacco-free campus policy, which bans the use of all tobacco products on campus – with the exception of use in one’s personal vehicle – will go into effect December 31 2015. Enforcement of the tobacco ban will rely on the combined efforts of the campus community, according to the UAF Fresh Air Committee.

There will not be any arrests or tickets issued for violations of the tobacco ban. Infringements will be handled on a case-by-case basis in a similar manner to other university policy
violations: by referring concerns involving students to the university student affairs representative.

The committee plans to begin the initiative with community-based enforcement. “We first want to be optimistic, but if a soft rollout does not work, we will use hard enforcement,” Kaydee Miller, Assistant director of DRAW and committee member said. She is not yet sure what that would look like for UAF, but mentioned that other campuses have issued fines or used suspension.  

The Fresh Air Committee encourages those who notice someone smoking on campus to kindly inform the person of the policy and ask them to comply. The tobacco free campus website also includes a sample statement that could be used for this purpose. “Implementation of this prohibition relies heavily on the consideration and cooperation of both smokers and nonsmokers,” the website states.

Mark Oldmixon, Director of the Department of Recreation, Adventure, and Wellness (DRAW) and Fresh Air Committee member, wants to change the culture of the campus by getting more people on board with the initiative. He says that the more people that take part in conversations informing people or and asking them to comply with the ban, the easier those conversations will become.

In the meantime, the Fresh Air Committee continues to prepare for the ban by getting the word out. As part of the project, the committee recently hired a temporary student assistant, funded by a grant from the American Lung Association, to represent the concerns of the student population.  “I’m not convinced that we have hit all of the students. I hope that through [this position’s] insight we can get the word out to the student body,” Oldmixon said.

The responsibilities of the student include posting signs and identifying key events for the committee to be present at. In addition, they are also preparing to celebrate the Great American Smoke Out (GASO) on November 19,  an annual event created by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to give up the habit.

Information about the Tobacco ban will be provided for incoming students in orientation materials and in campus tours. The committee still seeks additional support and encourages students with questions, concerns, or who would like to volunteer to visit the Tobacco Free Campus website or to contact them via email.

“It’s not about people-banning,” Oldmixon says, “Smokers are not bad people. It’s about changing habits.”

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