Tobacco ban eyes spring implementation

Mahdi+Al+Ahmed%2C+engineering+technology+major%2C+Ibrahim+Alnajrani%2C+engineering+technology+major%2C+and+Obaid+Almutairi%2C+environmental+health+major%2C+share+a+casual+smoke+break+Sept.+10+outside+Webster+Hall.

Levi Andrew | The Chart

Mahdi Al Ahmed, engineering technology major, Ibrahim Alnajrani, engineering technology major, and Obaid Almutairi, environmental health major, share a casual smoke break Sept. 10 outside Webster Hall.

Brad Stout, Executive Editor

The tobacco free campus initiative, which had been scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of the fall 2015 semester, hit another delay over the summer after the retirement of one committee member and is now expected to be implemented sometime in the spring.

When former Vice President of Academic Affairs Pat Lipira retired in the summer, the ad hoc committee tasked with writing the official tobacco ban policy came to a temporary standstill, says Darren Fullerton, vice president of student affairs. With the fall semester now underway, the committee reconvened Sept. 2 and now has a recommended draft of the policy to send to Missouri Southern’s legal department to ensure there aren’t any issues.

According to Fullerton, once the policy comes back from legal, it will be sent to the president’s council, then, pending approval from the council, onward to the Missouri Southern Board of Governors.

“What we would like to do because it has to go through those steps is start in the spring semester with a soft implementation, where we would announce that it’s in effect,” said Fullerton. “Because many of our publications and the admissions documents get printed once a year, we would have a full blown review of that [soft implementation] in the spring, and then those documents would be ready for the fall of 2016.”

Proposed enforcement of the new policy currently relies on the campus community as a whole to help educate people on the tobacco ban.

“The proposed policy asks the entire campus to help us enforce this ban, and to do so in a very non threatening way,” said Fullerton. “We want the campus to be open and welcoming.”

Students deemed repeat offenders would be disciplined under the student conduct guidelines. Similarly, employees deemed repeat offenders would be reported to their supervisors as violating a university policy. The most challenging group of people on campus to deal with when enforcing the new policy will be visitors, says Fullerton.

“Just educating the thousands of guests who come to campus each year that we are a tobacco free campus [will be difficult],” said Fullerton.

“Again, I think the approach would be to approach in a very non-threatening and very open manner, in more of an education mode. Hopefully the rest of the campus will take ownership of that as well.”

The idea for the tobacco free campus initiative was introduced during a Student Senate meeting in the spring of 2014 and was put to a student vote April 28, 2014, where the measure passed 401-159. Faculty and Staff Senate members then asked all employees on campus to weigh in on the issue. The Missouri Southern Board of Governors will have the final word on the implementation of the proposed policy.