Survey shows strong support for new tobacco policy on campus

  Wednesday, April 10, 2013 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

Survey shows strong support for new tobacco policy on campus

More than half of the Pittsburg State University community is likely to support a policy that prohibits tobacco use on campus, according to a recent survey conducted by the PSU Tobacco Policy Task Force.

Results of the survey, which was conducted in early March, were released Wednesday afternoon during an open forum in Yates Hall. The survey went out to campus and local community members and was aimed at helping the task force develop its approach to the issue of tobacco use on campus.

More than 1,200 PSU students, faculty, staff and alumni responded to the survey, which is one of the many ways the task force is engaging the campus community and gathering input about the issue of tobacco use on campus.

Approximately 65 percent of respondents reported that they would be “likely,” “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to support a tobacco-free policy on campus. Twenty-one percent reported that they would be “very unlikely” to support such a policy.

The survey results also indicate that the issue of tobacco use on campus is important to the PSU community. More than 70 percent of respondents agreed on some level that the issue is important.

“These results indicate that a strong portion of the campus community is in support of a progressive policy when it comes to tobacco use on campus,” said Rita Girth, task force co-chairperson and operations director of the Bryant Student Health Center. “We still have a lot of work to do to determine what that policy would be, but we do know that the campus community supports a progressive policy.”

Wednesday’s forum was open to the PSU and local community.

Ty Patterson, director of the National Center of Tobacco Policy, addressed those in attendance and helped answer questions from the audience.

Pittsburg State University formed a Tobacco Policy Task Force to explore the feasibility of making the campus tobacco free. The move came after students voted overwhelmingly in a referendum last spring to recommend that the campus move to a completely tobacco-free environment.

The Tobacco Policy Task Force is led by Girth and Jim Triplett, a professor in the Department of Biology.

Pittsburg State was actually completely smoke free prior to World War II, and it wasn’t until the return of GIs following the war that smoking was allowed. There are currently 825 smoke-free campuses throughout the nation. Of these, 608 have a total tobacco-free policy.

PSU’s Tobacco Policy Task Force will review current policies of the university and its peers regarding tobacco, engage with campus stakeholders, and identify all benefits and disadvantages to implementing a tobacco-free policy.

A final report with recommendations will be delivered to the president in May of 2013.

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