UWSP Tobacco Policy Reviewed

The University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point tobacco and smoking policies have been a contentious topic over the past few decades with very little changing on either side of the issue.
Student Life Issues Director Ryan Specht, who co-chairs the Ad Hoc Committee for the Resolution of Tobacco Concerns (AHCRTC), along with Health Services Student Director Anna Haug both hope that the committee will be the first to end inaction on the issue.
“We’re sick and tired of the flip-flopping,” Specht said. “Everyone might not be happy, but what we’re working towards is a compromise. We are committed to getting something done.”
Specht said that the committee is more concerned about formulating fair policy changes in making a healthier UWSP campus and that a tobacco ban is only one of five options currently being evaluated. Another plan involves the prohibition of the act of smoking anything—such as hookah—differing from a full tobacco ban, which would include chewing tobacco.Another option the committee is evaluating involves making no changes to the current tobacco and smoking rules on campus. As of now, guidelines include a ban on smoking in any indoor building and within 30-feet of a residence halls. There is also a ban on smoking within a non-defined range of any childcare facility on campus.

There is also a plan being discussed that would create designated smoking zones where tobacco products would be permitted as well as a long-term transitional plan that would promote a cultural shift on the act of tobacco use. This plan would involve promoting the already available smoking cessation programs available on campus.

Senior English major Randy Ploeckelman, who is a smoker, said that he believes the current tobacco rules on campus are necessary and fair but should not be taken any further. Some UWSP students are not convinced that tobacco use on campus is an issue.

“I think the rules are fine now. I don’t have a problem with it. I will walk through a crowd of smokers and get a cloud of smoke in my face but it happens, it doesn’t really bother me,” said Boone Sorenson, a senior communication major.

Daniel Werachowski, a junior English major and smoker, agreed with Sorenson.

“I feel like if they passed legislation to ban smoking on campus, it would be really hard to enforce and could cost a lot of money to enforce. It seems like since budgets are tight, there are a lot of bigger problems to worry about right now,” Werachowski said.

Specht said that he knows changing tobacco and smoking policies is a controversial issue but hopes that an open dialogue with students and faculty will help shape a policy that reflects the opinions of all sides.

“Feedback is critical and we won’t be enacting policy without that feedback,” Specht said.

AHCRTC is holding an open forum on Nov 14 where students and faculty can voice any concerns and offer input on the issue, as well as learn about some of the proposed plans. Anyone interested in more information can contact Ryan Specht at rspec566@uwsp.edu.

Justin Sullivan

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