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Smoking proposal in Senate sparks debate

A proposal brought up in last Monday’s Senate meeting discussed the prospect of making the university a smoke-free campus.
The tobacco-free policy received mixed feelings from the Senate. The senators wanted to know if it was considered going behind the students’ backs to try to pass the proposal in Senate rather than putting it to a campus vote.

A tobacco-free proposal was put forth by the chair of the Governmental Relations Communication Committee, Sen. Amanda Johnson. Johnson introduced the proposal, while the proposal’s author Sen. Travis Hart helped with the discussion.

The committee that wrote the proposal was all for updating and amending the document, but wished to keep most of the proposal intact. Senators addressed questions regarding how it would help the school enforce the proposal, how making offenders pay a $25 fee for smoking on campus would be a realistic goal and how the school will enforce students who use other tobacco products in the classroom.

Members of the senate discussed the proposal on the senate floor. One senator wanted to know about past smoking prevention programs and what is currently being done to aid student health.

Johnson said there have been cessation programs in the past and hopes her committee’s proposal encourages other groups to form more programs about smoking awareness.

As senators asked for clarification about the proposal, Johnson said the proposal was the committee’s example of what the smoking proposal might look like.

Johnson said she wanted to create a smoke-free campus, but did not want to specifically state no designated smoking areas.

“We felt that it should be left up to the administration along with residential life,” Johnson said. “Any student can get in their car and smoke.”

Sen. Amber Nold did not agree with the whole policy. She thought the proposal showed favoritism. She did not agree with allowing students to smoke in their car, because not everyone has a car. If students did not own a car they would have to walk off campus to smoke.

SGA members also wanted to know what the main reason for the tobacco resolution was.

“I think there are multiple benefits we can get from this policy,” Hart said. “I think the university can receive insurance benefits from banning smoking. It will improve students’ health, faculty health tremendously because it will reduce the number of cigarettes or tobacco people will use.”

The Student Senate is unable to enact this policy. It has to be passed by board of governors and administration. For the smoking ban proposal to pass, it requires a simple majority in senate.

Another senator wanted to know if SGA would keep hearing about the smoking issue on campus if the proposal did not pass this year. Johnson is graduating this year, but senators may continue to bring up smoking on campus in the future.

Hart created the tobacco-free policy from the policy that the Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City currently uses. The written proposal is two pages long and has an appeal process for students who disagree with a citation. The committee recommends having the policy take effect next year.

The committee worked together to summit it to the Senate. Many of the members on the committee want to see the university tobacco free. The members wanted the proposal discussed in Senate; if not passed, the document can go back to the committee for review and later be resubmitted.

The proposal is open to the public. Students and faculty can contact Johnson to get a copy of the proposal.

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