SGA to hold open forum regarding campus tobacco use policy

Anthony Dennison, freshman in anthropology, smokes a cigarette outside the K-State Student Union on Dec. 4, 2015. Last semester Student Governing Association received a proposal considering making campus tobacco-free. (File Photo by Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

Last semester, a proposal that K-State’s campus became tobacco-free was made at the Student Governing Association’s Dec. 1 meeting.

SGA held off on creating a new policy though, because members said they felt they needed time to further consult the student body in order to accommodate all students, Alex Bangert, sophomore in open option and SGA’s student affairs director, said.

“If students don’t think that it’s an issue, then it’s not something we’ll pursue because we’re here to spend our time on things that the students care about,” Bangert said.

To gain input from students, SGA will set up a table in the K-State Student Union next week, Bangert said. The group will also hold an open forum there on Feb. 2 from 6-8 p.m.

Bangert said if any changes regarding K-State’s smoking and tobacco use polices were to occur, they would not take place in the very near future.

Julie Gibbs, director of health promotion at Lafene Student Health Center, however, said the possibility that on-campus smoking and tobacco use policies could see a change means something different to each individual and group at K-State.

“It is challenging to pass policies like this, like the nonsmoking policies, because you don’t want to be judgmental toward anyone,” Gibbs said. “It’s tough because we don’t want to take anyone’s rights away from them, but at the same time, we want to protect the rights of other people who don’t smoke.”

According to an online listing of K-State’s policies, the university’s current code regarding smoking on campus became effective Jan. 5, 2009, and is in accordance with City of Manhattan Ordinance No. 6737, which covers smoking prohibitions and regulations that apply citywide, including on campus. K-State’s policy states that smoking is prohibited in and within 30 feet of university buildings and vehicles. A building authority is liable for “compliance” with the policy and, “unlawful smoking is a misdemeanor and is punishable under state or local law.”

Gibbs said that, in the interest of public health promotion, she believes even further prohibition of smoking on campus could be a step in the right direction.

“I think it would be a good idea, from a public health perspective, given the dangers of secondhand smoke, and it can kind of be a nuisance to people who don’t smoke,” Gibbs said. “I really think that it’d be beneficial, and I would hope that it would help drive smokers who want to quit to actually quit.”

Chris Craig, freshman in psychology, said she does not believe a smoking and tobacco ban on campus would be a wise decision.

“People smoke outside and out of the way, mostly, so I don’t think it would be a good idea,” Craig said. “I think it would just piss people off, and some people might consider going to school somewhere else.”

Bailey Waters, freshman in civil engineering, said that although she does not believe smoking or tobacco use is a healthy habit, she feels a policy completely prohibiting it on campus would not comply well with K-State’s values.

“People on campus, if they smoke, they would feel less included, so our inclusiveness as a campus would go down,” Waters said. “That would not be like the K-State family. Although we might stand for the stance that smoking is bad, we don’t want to exclude different students from our family.”

Hey there! I'm Danielle Cook. I'm currently a freshman in journalism and mass communications. I live for telling true stories, so I hope to be doing it for the rest of my life. Luckily, I also live for late nights and early mornings – as long as there's coffee and I'm in good company.