Tobacco-free policy more educational than punitive
With the Board of Trustees decision last week to institute a new tobacco-free policy at MSU, a few aspects of the policy have yet to be ironed out before it is eventually implemented August of 2016. However, MSU spokesperson Jason Cody said the policy will be geared toward education rather than be punitive in nature.
The Trustees voted on the policy that would ban, not only cigarettes, but chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes. However, with many students aware of the minimal enforcement of the current policy which requires smokers to remain 25 feet from any on-campus building, its successor will be enforced in similar ways.
“This policy isn’t being implemented with enforcement being the top priority,” Cody said. “This is more of, kind of an educational transition.”
He said the goal was to embrace a more healthy campus, although enforcement mechanisms will be put in place. Though the specifics steps of enforcement are still being worked out, students reported using tobacco will be referred to the campus judicial system, handled through Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, while faculty and staff will be referred to human resources.
Though Cody said each case is different for those directed toward a sort of punishment, he said it was very unlikely it would ever get as high as expulsion, even if a student obstinately refused to follow the policy.
The policy, being civil in nature rather than criminal, will not be enforced by the MSU police.
This decision is supported by the MSU Anti-Cancer Society, and president Tristan Worthington, said the stance of the group has changed in the last two years, after originally supporting a more stern policy, however, independent research revealed educational policies work better long term.
MSU Anti-Cancer Society members were behind the petition on Change.org last fall to ban smoking on campus, receiving just over 1,600 supporters.
“The (schools that banned tobacco) that were more successful from a public health standpoint were the ones that did more of a ... community and educational and sort of cultural shift instead of the ones that had the cops going around,” Worthington said.