A tobacco-free subcommittee has been formed at Missouri Western in order to help students and faculty address the current issue of tobacco use on campus.
For quite some time, there has been the controversial question of whether or not Western should follow the trend of becoming a tobacco-free campus.
Universities nationwide have started becoming tobacco-free in order to provide a healthier environment for their students and employees. Neighboring university Northwest Missouri State has recently gone tobacco-free and that has added to the discussion at Western.
The main complaint about tobacco on campus has been cigarette smoke. Many non-smoking students are upset with people smoking in front of building entrances.
Non-smoking students have every right to be upset. Secondhand smoke is the cause of thousands of deaths each year. Secondhand smoke is also attributed to several health problems, ranging from heart disease to bronchitis.
Chris Bond, chair of the tobacco-free subcommittee, wants students and faculty to know that the committee was formed for the purpose of gathering and concentrating information so that everyone is accurately informed.
“Groups on campus have had a lot of complaints and information was coming from all different areas,” Bond said. “We wanted one committee that represented all this areas.”
Bond stated that the committee is student-based and is in place to support and inform the Student Government Association. The committee is also tasked with making sure that the process of becoming a tobacco-free campus or not is completed correctly.
Randy Bergman, co-chair of Western’s wellness committee, says he and Bond were asked by SGA to help them with the issues on the faculty and staff side.
“The SGA asked us for help with the components of this type of process that they were not aware of,” Bergman said. “We want to make sure that all procedures are correctly followed.”
Bill Russell, assistant professor of physical education, is also on the tobacco-free subcommittee. Russell wants students to know that the outcome of this issue is totally up to them.
“We want everyone to know that this is a student driven issue,” Russell said “This issue affects everyone who comes on campus.”
Bond is also a member of Western based organization Clean Air St. Joseph. The mission of the group is to educate St. Joseph and the surrounding areas about the need to protect health from the dangerous exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and to promote the benefits of quitting smoking.
The tobacco-free subcommittee wants to make sure students understand that they do not write policy and that they are only in charge gathering information only. Students that have any questions, concerns or comments can contact Chris Bond or Randy Bergman via email.