Over a year since the University of Utah started their new tobacco-free policy, the campus is still undergoing the process of implementation. Posters across campus present variations of “No scare tactics. No gimmicks. Campus is simply tobacco free.”
But is the campus actually tobacco-free, or just tobacco-free on paper? The U has taken a judgment-free approach to the enforcement of this policy for the past year. However, according to chief wellness officer for the U, Robin Marcus, “the enforcement then  and now is really education. If someone is identified on campus as using a tobacco product, then anyone can ask that person or tell that person about the policy, that we are 100% tobacco-free and ask them to put out a cigarette for example, or something like that.”
Where did this tobacco-free policy come from? In short, ASUU. “A resolution was passed a few years ago  through ASUU about having a tobacco-free campus,” said current ASUU President Anna Barnes. Marcus echoed Barnes’ statement. “This was a student-led initiative back in 2017. The rule was accepted and passed by the Senate at the end of 2017, and it went into an effect on July 1, 2018.”
Marcus explained that the tobacco-free policy doesn’t just end with someone asking another to quit using their tobacco product on campus. , She said, “If [asking someone to quit] doesn’t work, and someone challenges that, then the enforcement elevates to another policy that isn’t the tobacco-free policy. … There are policies on campus where if someone becomes belligerent over anything, then there are other policies that manage that.”
But, if the enforcement policy has always been the same, why was there a one year training period? “Because as a community we realized this wasn’t all going to happen overnight,” Marcus said. “To be fair [to everyone], we wanted to let people have this first year to learn about and understand the policy before they were asked to completely comply to the tobacco-free policy. That was particularly important to what we consider the public venues, which are athletic events, Kingsbury Hall and Red Butte Gardens. Those entities on campus that really interface with the public, we felt they needed a year to inform their patrons.” Marcus mentioned that because football tickets for the 2018 season were already printed by the time this new tobacco-free policy was announced, it wouldn’t have been fair to start enforcing the policy during the first year. Instead, Utah athletics has started enforcing the tobacco-free policy at athletic events on campus this year.
This tobacco-free policy is completely about health. “It’s about the health of those who learn, visit, teach and work at the University of Utah. This is for those who use tobacco products and those who may be around tobacco products,” Marcus said. “We hope that having such policies will send a message that health is very important to us.” Marcus mentioned that there has been some pushback on the policy, while others were surprised that the U wasn’t already a tobacco-free campus.
For anyone who has questions about the tobacco-free policy, visit the U’s website for regulations, FAQs and more.