Tobacco ban remains lenient for 2014 year for educational purposes

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Dixie State University has an official tobacco-free campus, but that doesn’t mean enforcement is a top priority.

The tobacco-free policy went into effect Jan. 1, but Dean of Students Del Beatty said it will take the entire 2014 year to enforce the policy. Signs will begin to appear around campus within the next week, but there will not be harsh consequences for those who choose to smoke. 

“There [are] really no penalties this first year — at all,” Beatty said. “We’ll give people warnings and just remind them politely.”

Don Reid, director of security and campus police, said in order to enforce the policy, many things have to take place.

“[We’ll] have to put signs up for quite some time just to be able to guarantee that everybody had a chance to see them because you can’t enact a new rule like that … and expect someone to come to school next semester and know the rule,” Reid said. “It’s something that is going to have to be put in the student code of conduct, it’s going to have to be put in brochures for the new freshmen when they come in, it’s going to have to be posted on the buildings, and then (there’s going to have to be) a campaign of news articles.”

Beatty said administration is encouraging cessation and health throughout the campus. He said rather than issuing citations or arresting students who smoke, administration is going to direct those students to the Health and Wellness Center where they can take advantage of its services to help kick the habit.

“If someone was getting multiple warnings, then the police might actually cite them, but the plan is, for 2014, to be more educational,” Beatty said. “It’s going to be cool. We’re going to help people be healthy.”

Beatty said this policy was created purely based on health. He said there are people who construe this as a religious or conservative issue, but that is incorrect. He said he attended a forum about DSU’s smoke-free campus and was able to hear students’ input. 

“One of the students that was really opposed to it … said, ‘So you’re trying to mandate health and mandate everything I do … So now what are you going to tell me?’” Beatty said. “That I can’t drink Coke or have a cheeseburger and french fries because it’s not healthy for me?’ And … the other student stood up and said, ‘No because that decision only impacts you, so we don’t care about that, but smoking also impacts us because of secondhand smoke.’”

Gregory Layton, a senior English major from Cottonwood Heights and Vice President of Academics, said the tobacco ban is a positive change to Dixie State.

“It’s a great thing for the campus because [it] gives a great image,” Layton said. “We are a healthy campus, and we care about the health and safety of our students. This is another step to being a great campus … It’s something that we might be ahead of the trend in Utah, but other schools will follow.”

Beatty said the federal government gave colleges and universities the right to regulate the manner in which students smoke. Each school has the ability to choose whether it allows the use of tobacco, whether it has designated smoking areas, or whether it is a smoke-free campus.

He said smoking created a concern because of pregnant women attending Dixie, and it was also a concern when people would smoke in front of the playground when children were outside. He also said many students have severe asthma, and smoking created a health issue for those who suffered from the disease. 

Layton said the student government respects smokers because it is their choice, but some smokers complain that the school is taking away their right to smoke.

“We’re not discriminatory against them, and we’re not taking away their rights to smoke because it is not a right,” Layton said. “The process to have the policy is perfect because the majority of students on campus don’t want smoking.”

Beatty said administration does not have an official policy on how the tobacco ban will be enforced on campus, but he said the first offense will most likely be a recorded warning, the second will be documented in the database, and the third will result in a citation. 

Ron Isaacson, assistant director of security and campus police, said there may be a future program for enforcing the policy, but anyone can push the ban.

“Anybody can enforce it,” Isaacson said. “The students can say, ‘Hey this is a smoke-free campus — go smoke off campus.’”

Beatty said this ban not only affects the Dixie State campus, but it also affects other schools. He said within a week of the tobacco ban, he received phone calls from administrators of two major universities saying they are going to work toward a tobacco-free campus as well. 

“We’re advertising,” Beatty said. “We’re saying … we’re a healthy, smoke-free (and) tobacco-free campus. And people like it.”

He said he understands DSU students might be upset about the tobacco ban, but he said he is looking out for all students who do not smoke and are in need of a smoke-free campus.

“We hope that people will understand that it is a health issue and they will embrace it and realize that this was better for everyone and (that) it’ll make our campus environment better,” Beatty said.