Southeast Establishes New Smoking Policy

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

July 8, 2008 – The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today approved a policy limiting the use of tobacco products on University property to designated areas.

Implementation of the policy will begin Aug. 1, 2008, prohibiting smoking both indoors and outdoors on University property, except in designated areas. The policy also prohibits smoking in University vehicles and the use of smokeless tobacco inside all University buildings other than student residential housing units. Southeast’s main campus will have a total of 24 outdoor designated smoking areas. The River Campus and regional campuses will designate outdoor smoking areas at a later time.

The policy was recommended by an ad hoc committee on smoking policies and procedures by Southeast Kenneth W. Dobbins to study smoking policies and their rationale. The committee was formed in response to concerns expressed by members of the University community and national trends restricting the use of tobacco products on college campuses.

The committee membership, which included representatives from Clerical Technical Service Employee Staff Council, Professional Staff Council, faculty, students, Residence Life, wellness programs, the Center for Health and Counseling, and Human Resources, contained a mixture of smokers, non-smokers and former smokers.

The committee researched national trends and policies at other institutions and held several student and employee focus groups to obtain feedback on the topic from the University community, according to Alissa Vandeven, assistant director of human resources. The committee also issued campus-wide surveys to students, faculty and staff via the University portal to gain additional feedback, Vandeven said.

“Based on the committee’s findings, the general consensus was that the University’s policy should be aimed at protecting non-tobacco users from the hazards and nuisance of tobacco use rather than imposing a universal ban,” said Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president of enrollment management and student success. “The policy restricts smoking to designated areas, thus reducing the likelihood of unwanted exposure to indirect smoke.”

Liz Reisenbichler, senior administrative assistant in Southeast’s Facilities Management and a smoker who served on the committee, says she is satisfied with the outcome and doesn’t think the new policy will be a problem for smokers on campus.

“I was very pleased with the way the committee handled the process,” she said. “We found from the survey that a minority of people on campus wanted to be completely smoke free, but the majority did want designated smoking areas. From a smoker’s perspective, I don’t think we’ll notice a huge difference. We may have to walk a little further to our designated area, but I think there are a sufficient number of locations.”

Implementation of the outdoor smoking areas will begin at the start of the fall 2008 semester, Vandeven said. Questions can be directed to Human Resources at (573) 651-2206. Efforts to establish tobacco usage cessation programming through the University’s Fitness and Wellness program will be developed during the upcoming year.