Tobacco-free initiative awaits trustees’ vote

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The decision of whether or not Dixie State University will become the first public institution in Utah to have a tobacco-free campus is drawing ever closer.

After three years of progress, members of the Student Senate consider the Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative ready for the board of trustees’ vote.

The initiative has been a work-in-progress since it was first discussed in August of 2010. Since then, the Student Senate has reviewed results from multiple forums as well as a number of student surveys conducted last year.

Joe Pate, former DSU Student Association health-science senator and a senior nursing major from Provo, said from last year’s strong student response, he and other Student Senate members have decided to push forward with the initiative.

“We’re riding the crest of that wave in the students’ favor,” Pate said.

Jimmy Seely, DSUSA health-science senator and a senior nursing major from Morgan, said the smoking initiative is prepared to enter its final stage.

“Now that we’ve done all that work—all the surveys that have been done, all the forums that have been done—we believe that we have everything we need to move forward with this,” Seely said. “If it were up to us, then it would be passed today. It’s ready.”

Brandon Price, DSUSA student body vice president of academics and a senior communication major from Brigham City, said he expects and hopes the board of trustees will vote on the initiative by the end of this semester, but he doesn’t know of an exact date.

Seely said he predicts the board of trustees will decide to approve the initiative and implement it in August. 

“It’s my and [Seely’s] full intention that it’s going to happen this year,” Pate said.

Pate also said if the initiative is indeed approved, implementation will be a slow process with a grace period so people can get used to the policy before full enforcement.

“I don’t want to come in here thinking I can just take cigarettes from smokers like taking candy from a baby,” Pate said. “It’s a slow process, it’s an addiction, it’s something that if you took away immediately, (then it) would have a very negative kickback. We just have to tread softly and be sensitive to the smokers and non-smokers.”

Pate said students will have access to cessation programs and other information about how and why to quit smoking.

“We want to give [smokers] the tools necessary to kick the habit, move forward and not be constrained by [smoking], and also help promote a healthier campus and healthier lifestyle in general,” Price said.

Seely said all of last year’s forums and surveys have given students the chance to voice their opinions. 

Students can view the proposed policy, its purpose and the process behind the Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative in the document “A Case for a Tobacco-Free Campus,” by Pate, Seely and the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.

Student leaders can be contacted at the DSUSA offices located on the second floor of the Gardner Student Center.