A little over two years since an eight-question tobacco survey was distributed to approximately 2,500 students in fall semester of 2010, CSU student government is still in the process of exploring the possibility of a tobacco-free campus.
Audrey Purdue, health director of the Associated Students of CSU, said student government is trying to put together forums later on this semester that would be hosted by the Center for Public Deliberation to “further gauge student opinion and voices on this type of issue.”
No date has been set for the forums but ASCSU, at the request of the CPD, is putting together another smaller survey to gauge what to address once the forums are set.
The new survey may be administered in the next weeks, according to Purdue.
This would be the third survey done, with the largest, most comprehensive one being the tobacco opinion survey that was administered in April 2012.
It consisted of approximately 30 questions and was distributed to 4,499 students on campus and all 6,000 faculty members. Of the people who received the survey, 805 students and 1,986 faculty members responded.
It showed among other things that 19 percent of CSU students and 7 percent of faculty identified as smokers, with 53 percent of students and 63 percent of faculty and staff saying they were likely to support a smoke free policy on campus.
Both groups overwhelmingly agreed that exposure to secondhand smoke is a health issue, with the highest amount of exposure occurring on trips across campus.
When asked when a final decision from student government might come on the smoke free policy, Purdue said it wouldn’t be this semester.
“We really want to take our time on the issue and make sure everything is explored and this would be a good fit for our campus,” she said.
Although the final decision to implement a smoking ban on campus would rest with CSU administration, Purdue said ASCSU is trying to get as many groups on campus involved so they can contribute to the dialogue and be represented in the conversation as it moves forward.
Last semester, she presented the results of the survey to Faculty Council and Classified Personnel Council at CSU.
University spokesman Mike Hooker said while the issue has been discussed by a few groups on campus, the president’s cabinet hasn’t looked into it.
If it reached that level, it would have to be sponsored by a member of the cabinet and the group would incorporate public input and make sure the issue was looked at closely before a decision would be made.
“None of these issues are as easy as they appear,” Hooker said.
He said concerns that may not be obvious at first glance would have to be taken into consideration before any decision would be reached.
He used an example of international students who aren’t used to restrictions like smoking bans as being a group who would be affected.
Eli Kenning, a military veteran and freshman mechanical engineering major, said he is a former smoker and has no problem with other people smoking outdoors on campus.
“If they want to ban smoking I want to see them kick all of the fast food places out of the student center,” Kenning said.
Megan Ryan, sophomore human development and family studies major, disagreed but also echoed what many other students say-that there should be designated smoking areas.
“I’m disgusted walking behind people who smoke,” Ryan said.
The initial tobacco conversation was started after representatives from student government fielded complaints from students about secondhand smoke on campus.
The toxicity of secondhand smoke, litter from cigarette butts and concerns about allergies were a few of the reasons for considering the ban, Purdue said.
The tobacco discussion at CSU is part of a larger, nationwide trend towards smoke free campuses. According to the website Smoke-Free Campus, as of Jan. 2 at least 1,130 campuses have adopted smoke free policies that completely eliminated smoking on campus.
That number is up from 410 campuses in July 2010.
According to the Office of Policy and Compliance at CSU, smoking is banned in all university buildings and vehicles, and prohibited within 25 feet of any entrance. This policy was put in place by CSU administration in 2007.
Last December, CU–Boulder student government voted against supporting a tobacco ban on campus.
Christopher Schaefbauer, CU Student Government Director of Health and Safety, said part of the concern was there hadn’t been enough student input on the issue and the vote was on a broader referendum on tobacco versus zeroing in on smoking, which he felt could have passed.
Regardless of the vote, just last week the CU chancellor instituted a smoke free policy on campus, with a six month education phase planned before the ban takes effect in the fall .
“Even though there’s a big push for it across the county it’s a split issue,” Schaefbauer said “There’s concern about personal freedoms and how people would adopt if they couldn’t smoke on a campus.”
Should CSU implement a smoking ban on campus?