Smoking ban may soon take effect at K-State

A student smokes outside of Goodnow Hall on March 14, 2017.(Kellly Pham | The Collegian)

President Richard Myers is looking to implement a campus-wide smoking ban within the next year, said Cindy Bontrager, vice president of administration and finance.

“(The smoking ban has) now kind of come back to life, if you will,” Bontrager said.

Currently, university policy prohibits smoking inside of university buildings or vehicles, as well as within 30 feet of building entrances.

In February 2016, the Student Governing Association passed a resolution recommending the implementation of a campus-wide tobacco ban in a close vote of 26-25. However, that recommendation was sent to then-president Kirk Schulz, who resigned before making a final decision on the matter last year.

Bontrager said Myers is interested in the recommendation of banning smoking on campus in order to create a healthier environment for students and employees who do not smoke. However, such a ban would have a substantial impact on some campus employees, Bontrager said, as they would have to find other locations to take smoke breaks.

The possible on-campus smoking ban has raised concerns from different student groups, Bontrager said. The groups would like to see programs that help students and employees quit smoking in the event of such a ban.

Kylie Andres, graduate student in counseling and student development and member of the special committee on smoking and tobacco engagement, said the special committee is working toward the implementation of a smoking ban. The university already has designated smoking areas, although the areas can be tricky to spot because they are not well-marked or enforced, Andres said.

“(Our) committee sent out a stratified survey, held a forum and tabled to talk to students about their opinions on the smoking policy,” Andres said.

Andres said she and other students created the committee, which includes faculty and staff from Lafene Health Center, K-State Counseling Services and Housing and Dining, among others, to take a closer look at the potential ban.

“(Our) committee discussed many items like possible cessation programs, the boundaries of campus and more,” Andres said.

Jason Brungardt, assistant director of facilities and committee staff advisor, said since the ban is not in effect yet, the committee does not have definite plans on how the ban would be enforced. However, the committee has contacted other universities and evaluated the enforcement and concerns relating to smoking bans at those institutions.

“Recently, SGA members attended a tobacco-free campus conference, which got the ball rolling,” Brungardt said. “Student government held open forums for students to voice concerns, ask questions and surveyed the student body to gauge their interest in this matter.”

Although there are no definite plans to implement a smoking ban, Bontrager said university administrators are evaluating whether a smoking ban would be the right decision for the campus and would increase awareness if implemented.

“I know it will have a certain impact on our campus for those students who are smokers,” Bontrager said. “We will need to make sure people are aware of the policy and things so that they are aware when they come in.”

Bontrager said she encourages students to talk to their student government representatives and let them know their opinions.