Committee members reflect on first semester of being tobacco-free

  Thursday, May 21, 2015 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

Committee members reflect on first semester of being tobacco-free

In January, Pittsburg State did something that no other four-year, regents’ institution in Kansas had ever done. It became tobacco-free.

Now, five months later, committee members responsible for implementing the new policy are reviewing the first semester results and liking what they see.

“The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Rita Girth, co-chair of the Tobacco Policy Task Force. “It’s encouraging to see not only acceptance, but support, from such a large portion of our campus.”

The positive response may be a result of the process used to develop and implement the new policy.

“It’s important to remember that this began with our students,” said Girth. “They deserve the credit for moving it forward with the passage of the 2011 referendum. The depth of support became apparent to our administration and it was at that point that we created a task force to study the matter in-depth.”

Committee members spent nearly a year researching polices and gathering campus input before recommending a formal policy to Presidents Council. After approving the policy, the council quickly formed an implementation team to develop timelines, communication strategies and enforcement recommendations.

“We used this semester as a ‘soft implementation’ period to determine the levels of awareness and compliance,” said Girth. “Our survey results were pretty positive with 99 percent of respondents indicating they were aware of the policy and 67 percent indicating they believed campus tobacco use had decreased.”

These types of results are encouraging to committee members, especially as they look at enforcement.

“July 1 was going to be our ‘hard implementation’ date, but the positive survey results have made us rethink that,” said Jim Triplett, co-chair of the Tobacco Policy Task Force. “When we started this process we had hoped to create a culture of acceptance and self-regulation. It appears as if this is taking root.”

As a result, committee members will continue to focus on active education and promotion rather than enforcement methods.

“Our campus seems to have taken ownership of the new policy,” said Triplett. “We want to continue our momentum and this seems like the best way. We’ve always known that this would be a long process. We’ll continue to review progress and make revisions, as needed, to support compliance.”

Additional information about the tobacco-free policy, including results of the spring survey, are available online at



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