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WSUSA to implement smoking zone signs in fall

Cigarette Butt Collector
(Source: McClatchy Tribune)

Although the Weber State University Student Association passed its resolution for a smoke-free campus in both the 2010-11 and the 2011-12 session, most of the signs enforcing the policy won’t be seen until this coming fall semester.

In the 2010-11 year, a student petition went around campus to find a solution to the smoking issues at WSU.

“The senate started working on the smoke-free campus issue four years ago,” said Brady Harris, WSU senate president, “when the students brought complaints to the senate that they were tired of walking through smoke around campus.”

Once the student senate passed the smoke-free campus resolution, it went to the faculty senate.

“With the help of the faculty senate (and the) Environmental Issues Committee, who passed it in the spring of 2013,” Harris said, “it then went to the President’s Council and the Board of Trustees, who passed it over the summer of 2013.”

Smoking zones are now an official policy on campus, but some students are confused as to why no signs have been posted.

“I remember signing the petition,” said Christa Lindley, WSU student. “But I haven’t seen or heard much about it since.”

After the smoking policy passed in the summer semester of 2013, WSUSA began posting signs, but most have been taken down, to be replaced at a later time.

“Earlier this semester, the smoking zone signage was asked to be taken down,” said India Nielsen, senator for the College of Arts & Humanities. “We were getting complaints that they were temporary and unprofessional.”

Permanent signs will be added throughout the summer semester.

The Student Wellness Center and other campus entities will begin an educational campaign about the policy this semester and through the summer. Harris said the full rollout will occur in the fall 2014 semester. WSUSA plans to mark all smoking and non-smoking zones with signs by then.

“Our policy reflects a nationwide trend of many schools going the same way, including entire statewide systems,” Harris said. “Over the next few years, I only see this trend continuing, with nearly 1,200 universities already implementing similar, if not more punitive and widespread, policies.”

WSUSA is waiting to put up most of the signs in hopes of maximizing their effectiveness.

“That way, everybody is hopefully aware of the policy, and it’s not a surprise to many when they find out they can’t smoke in the non-smoking zones anymore,” Harris said. “Again, the senate has always wanted for this to be a phased implementation, with an emphasis on educating students about the policy, rather than abruptly putting it in place in the middle of a semester.”

WSUSA wants to make sure the non-smoking policy is well received by students.

“We have put a lot of research and time into this matter,” Nielsen said. “The solutions are not going to happen overnight, and we have done a lot of planning in hopes of pleasing everyone.”

During the 2010-11 and 2011-12 sessions, WSUSA brought in a national consultant on the smoke-free policy, surveyed the student body and hosted many open forums for students to give input.

“A campus-wide survey was done, and close to 800 students responded,” Harris said.

Most of the feedback from students was in favor of a smoke-free zone being implemented in the main corridor of campus and within 25 feet of buildings.

WSUSA also received positive responses from smoking students who said they were pleased the university was implementing smoke-free zones rather than a smoke-free campus.

“I think we’ve reached a great starting point to address both sides of the issue,” Harris said.

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