Student senate works toward healthier campus

Anthony Dennison, freshman in anthropology, smokes a cigarette outside the K-State Student Union on Dec. 4, 2015. (Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

A resolution proposing a ban on the use of tobacco products on campus was introduced at the K-State Student Governing Association on Nov. 19.

Jessica Van Ranken, junior in political science, said the idea of proposing a complete smoke and tobacco ban on campus has been an ongoing process for several years.

Last year, there was a move on campus toward designated smoking areas.

“I think a lot of the sentiment from different members of student government was that that was sort of an incremental step to a larger plan to move toward this campus-wide tobacco ban,” Van Ranken said.

Right now, the resolution for a campus wide tobacco ban is still in committee to be looked at in more depth next semester, Van Ranken said. As a resolution, the ban will only be a recommendation to K-State President Kirk Schulz if passed.

Alexandria Bangert, sophomore in open option, said student leaders are currently working toward holding forums and sending out surveys so that they can get students’ opinions on the resolution.

“If they don’t see an issue on campus, then there’s nothing we can do to change it,” Bangert said.

Jenny Yuen, health educator at Lafene Health Center, said she thinks most people understand the health risks associated with smoking and tobacco use.

“We all know that it’s not good for you, for your body, for anybody’s body, and so it’s kind of out of respect that we should make this a clean campus,” Yuen said.

In the U.S. cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smokers, and people exposed to secondhand smoke, are at a higher risk of developing heart disease, stroke and lung cancer than non-smokers, according to the CDC website.

“I think a lot of people that are non-smokers feel they shouldn’t have to suffer from what other people’s behavior is,” Yuen said.

Van Ranken said one of the main concerns in presenting a campuswide ban on tobacco use is the effect of secondhand smoke. She also said implementing a campuswide tobacco ban would promote better health on campus in general.

Pittsburg State University was the first four-year, regent institution in Kansas to become tobacco free, according to Pittsburg State’s website. A complete ban on tobacco products in all university buildings and university-owned properties went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

“I’m thinking if they can do it, we can definitely strive to do the same,” Yeun said.

Van Ranken, however, said the committee wants to make sure they take their time going through the research process before putting the resolution up to vote.

“Because it is kind of an interesting process that some aren’t familiar with, students in (the committee) just wanted to take their time to really make sure that they went through the process correctly and understand the recommendation and the implications of it,” Van Ranken said.

Van Ranken said individuals within SGA are planning outreach efforts and surveys in order to gain qualitative and quantitative feedback, so they are ready to continue discussions on the resolution in the spring semester.

“I think it will be a good step toward a healthier campus,” Yeun said.