July 31, 2014 8:15AM
As students prepare to return to Pittsburg State for the fall semester, university officials are encouraging them to include the new tobacco policy in their planning.
The university’s new policy, which makes the campus tobacco free, won’t go into effect until the spring semester of 2015, but those who are responsible for implementing the change say it’s never too early to get ready.
“One of the keys to success for the university’s tobacco-free policy is education,” said Rita Girth, operations director at the Bryant Student Health Center and co-chairperson of the Tobacco Taskforce. “We want students and staff to begin thinking of the change now so the transition is as smooth and painless as possible.”
The road to PSU’s status as a tobacco-free campus began in 2012 when students voted to recommend a completely tobacco-free environment. A task force was formed to explore the feasibility of making the campus tobacco free. That group spent more than a year gathering campus input through town hall meetings, surveys and small-group discussions, finally recommending a policy that was approved by the President’s Council early this year.
The new policy prohibits the use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes campuswide. The plan calls for a “soft implementation” in the spring of 2015 with full implementation that summer.
With the adoption of its new policy, PSU joins more than 1,340 campuses across the U.S. that have chosen to become tobacco-free.
“The process has taken some time because we wanted to make sure everyone had an opportunity for input and everyone had a clear understanding of what was planned,” said Girth.