Survey results in favor of tobacco-free campus

Student Health Services presents data to Student Senate


Photo by Kendall Ruchti

Senator Ethan Fuhrman introduced a bill to Monday night to hold a referendum addressing the campus policy for tobacco use.

Student Senate introduced a bill Monday that if passed would give the student body a say in the campus tobacco policy.

In a presentation to Senate, Allison Arvey, a member of the Student Wellness Advocacy Team, said Student Health Services distributed a survey last fall asking students if UW-Eau Claire should become a tobacco-free campus.

From the almost 3,000 survey participants, faculty and staff who responded, 60 percent supported a tobacco-free campus and 62 percent supported the idea after the survey gave additional information on benefits and concerns, Arvey said.

The current policy prohibits tobacco use except for in designated areas, but Arvey said this fails to contain carcinogens and thus exposes others to the dangers of secondhand smoke.

“Our goal of this is not to marginalize anyone,” Arvey said, “but simply to create a healthy environment for students, faculty and staff.”

Arvey said this could help limit the amount of triggers for tobacco users on campus who want to quit. The policy would be implemented using peer enforcement, which has been successful on other UW campuses, she said.

Arvey said those who use tobacco products as a coping method for various reasons, including mental illnesses, have been considered and the university can provide resources, such as counseling services, to help those who want to quit.

Director of Academic Affairs Mathew Riedel said he’s concerned the policy would push the problem on nearby neighborhoods as people seek out new locations to use their tobacco products.

Senator Ethan Fuhrman introduced the bill and said it’s more appropriate to defer the decision to the student body as a referendum rather than Senate voting on the policy proposal itself.

The bill is scheduled for a vote at next week’s meeting after continued discussion.