LAWRENCE — July 1, 2018, marks the start of a new beginning at the University of Kansas. It’s the day when the Lawrence and Edwards campuses complete the university’s transition to be tobacco free.
All forms of tobacco use, including vaping and e-cigarettes, will be barred on university grounds. The KU Medical Center campus as well as several Kansas Board of Regents institutions — Kansas State, Pittsburg State, Wichita State, Emporia State and Fort Hays State universities — have already made the transition to smoke-free and tobacco-free campuses. State law has, for several years, already prohibited smoking inside university buildings and within the outside perimeter of university buildings. University practice also prohibits smoking in state vehicles.
After July 1, KU students, faculty, staff and visitors who use tobacco products or vape must do so while away from university grounds. The policy allows individuals to use tobacco or vape in their personal vehicles while they are on campus. Leaders of neighborhood associations that border the Lawrence campus have been informed the new policy is taking effect. Neighbors are encouraged to contact the Human Resource Management office with concerns about litter or traffic. The Center for Sustainability has offered signs to neighbors bordering campus to encourage respect for property and the environment. The Breathe Easy at KU student organization, which has been working to raise awareness and advance tobacco-free goals, has made available a number of resources such as handouts and fliers for individuals to download and post, including ones that call for respecting the environment and KU neighbors.
The Tobacco Free effort for the Lawrence campus has been in process since spring 2013 when KU students conducted a survey of the student body and found considerable support to ban tobacco use. The effort also found support from Faculty Senate and Staff Senate. The tobacco-free policy, approved in its final form by the provost on July 1, 2017, includes all forms of tobacco, including chewing tobacco and snuff, and devices designed to simulate cigarette smoking such as e-cigarettes and vaping devices. According to American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, as of March 30, 2018, there are more than 2,150 smoke-free campuses in the United States, more than 1,800 of which are also tobacco-free.
What to expect
Culture shift will take time, patience and participation from members of the campus community.
The focus remains on offering cessation support and encouragement to quit tobacco use. Students, faculty and staff are urged to visit the Tobacco Free website to find free or low-cost tools and resources to quit or to find information to assist friends and family members in their journey to become tobacco-free. An upcoming opportunity for faculty and staff is the “From Smoker to Smoke Free” webinar at noon July 12, offered through Faculty and Staff Wellness. Registration is required.
Efforts have also been made to ensure international students, especially individuals from countries where tobacco use is less restricted, are aware of KU’s tobacco-free policy. Managers and supervisors are expected to be supportive of employees trying to become tobacco-free.
The Tobacco Free website has a page to submit accounts of individuals seen using tobacco on campus. The initial followup with individuals will be a reminder of the tobacco-free policy. Repeated violations by an individual will be addressed through the appropriate conduct avenues — Student Affairs in the case of students, or Human Resource Management counseling for employees — using the concept of progressive discipline.
The tobacco-free website includes an FAQ page where individuals can learn matters of common interest. New questions can also be submitted online.