DSU Smoke-free policy just ‘matter of health’

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As the tobacco-free policy reaches its one-year anniversary, Dixie State University paves the way for other schools to become smoke-free in the name of health and offers resources for students who want to quit.

The policy advocates for health and smoking cessation instead of punishment, but the ban cannot be enforced 100 percent. 

“It’s just a matter of health,” Dean of Students Del Beatty said about the tobacco-free policy that has been a part of DSU for almost one year.

DSU is currently the only public institution in Utah that is tobacco-free, Beatty said. Utah Valley University and Utah State University are interested in becoming tobacco-free. Beatty said he met with the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, because they are interested in getting information to assist other schools that are looking into becoming smoke and tobacco-free. 

“I think you will see other schools in Utah finally be brave enough to do the right thing for health and to follow our lead,” Beatty said.

As a senior capstone project, Rhett Sullivan, a senior communication major from Hurricane, wants to give the tobacco-free policy the kick-off on campus it didn’t get at the beginning of the year. He said there were so many distractions at the time the initiative became policy, such as Dixie State University achieving university status, that nothing was done to acknowledge it.

Sullivan was a roommate of Joe Pate and Jimmy Seely, two former students who went before the board of trustees to present the initiative. He said he witnessed their efforts in action and the benefits, such as creating a safer place for those who have asthma.

“I thought that it was really cool that they did something that involved the school and benefits the school long term and maybe even the state,” Sullivan said.

The Great American Smoke-Out, which happens on campus Nov. 19 and starts at 8:45 a.m., will have a booth where Sullivan will have information from the Southwest Utah Public Health Department and the DSU Health and Wellness Center about the policy and resources to help those who want to stop smoking.

“I don’t want it to just be about ‘you can’t smoke on campus,’” Sullivan said. “I want to make sure people have resources and are aware of the resources to quit.”

Future plans to assist students in smoking cessation include access to nicotine patches and prescriptions at the DSU Health and Wellness Center, Beatty said. There will also a focus on education about the policy. 

Initial concern was for international students, some of whom may have began smoking at a young age, Beatty said. They have been supportive, he said, because they want to quit.

“It has actually helped us, not hurt us, as far as international recruiting,” Beatty said. 

Other supporters of the ban included expectant mothers, parents whose children who go to the preschool, and those who suffer from chronic asthma, he said.

Those who have opposed the ban weren’t necessarily smokers but advocates from a human rights perspective, Beatty said. 

The tobacco-free policy is enforced like any other policy, Beatty said. If a student continually violates a policy, the student is called in for a meeting. Multiple reports will result in following through with the procedures outlined in the student code.When students enrolls at DSU, they sign a document that includes agreeing to follow the policy, Beatty said.

The policy is self-enforced on campus, through faculty and students speaking up when they see someone smoking, Beatty said. Other schools have found this the most effective way. At the time, tobacco violations are not enforced through fines, Beatty said in an email. 

Smoking is allowed at the edge of campus, which is easily and quickly accessible Beatty said.

Campus security was initially given policy reminder notices to give to violators, Beatty said. Tickets are not given. 

Beatty said that he does hear that the veterans group that protested the ban does still congregate behind the McDonald building. He said there is occasionally a smoker outside.

“Right now, we’ll continue with our positive roll-out, and unless there is negative feedback from students, then we will continue to be positive about it,” Beatty said. “Once students starting complaining [that] there is smoking again on campus, then we’ll have to be more stringent.”