Over the next year, the University of Utah will join nearly 1,800 other tobacco or smoke-free colleges and universities across the United States. The ASUU Academic Senate passed University Rule 3-300A — Tobacco Free Campus.
The Academic Senate is comprised of a total of 100 faculty members from every college represented proportionally by enrollment, similar to the U.S. House of Representatives. It also includes two of the 18 college deans, all 18 student senators, the student body president and the ASUU director of academic affairs.
The rule goes into effect on July 1, 2017, and the implementation phase will span 12 months to be fully put into action in July 2018. The U will use the year-long period to inform and educate the campus and public on the new tobacco ban, the research behind it and its implications. Fines or other disciplines will not be administered during this phase.
The road to University Rule 3-300A’s passing has been long and arduous according to its advocates, and this is not the first time a bill of this nature was proposed by ASUU. In fact, discussions surrounding the issue began in 2010. The rule passed this year was proposed by former ASUU vice president Matthew Miller. When the issue came up in the Academic Senate one year ago, the vote to recommend that the U become a tobacco-free campus failed.
“This [bill] was not passed the first time it was seen because many felt the sanctions were too vague, the boundaries in which this would go into effect were not clearly defined, [and] it was unclear who would be subjected to this policy,” said Chandler Dean, ASUU senate chair. “Thus, the first year will be spent making everyone aware of the rule, educating people on why the rule was put into effect.”
After the policy is fully implemented, ASUU plans to establish an ad hoc committee to produce an interim report on the year’s observations and propose potential amendments.
So far, the disciplinary measures have not been clearly defined. However, Dean said, “While fines are certainly a potential, an individual would have to be a repeat offender a few times over before that action is taken.” No amount has been specified, but the ad hoc committee will decide these details next July.
Robin Marcus, chief wellness officer at the U, said that this issue is more complicated than it appears.
“We have to be mindful of the intended and also the unintended consequences of this initiative,” Marcus explained. “Some of the issues that we will need to address are specific to patient care and visitors, the sensitivity that tobacco users need not feel judged in this process, [and] we need to consider tobacco cessation needs for those who wish to quit and other complicated issues.”
The education programs following the bill are funded by a grant from the American Cancer Society. Now, ASUU’s main concern is informing the student body in hopes of having a smooth transition.