President Dr. Robert Vartabedian signed a tobacco-free policy on Oct. 23 after being recommended by the Missouri Western Advisory Council on Oct. 16. The campus wide policy will be implemented July 1, 2013.
“A tobacco-free campus will contribute to a cleaner and healthier educational and work environment,” Vartabedian said.
Dr. Jeanne Daffron, provost and vice-president of Academic Affairs, also supports a tobacco-free campus, and she thinks the policy will have a positive impact on the university.
“We have responsibility for this environment so we need to do what was can to make sure that it is as safe and healthy of an environment as we can have,” Daffron said.
Although the tobacco policy had been signed there are still some faculty and students that opposed a tobacco free campus. Dr. Daniel Trifan said the policy “will annoy a great number of students,” and be ineffective.
“I can understand a smoking policy but a tobacco free policy is nothing but social control,” Trifan said.
Trifan further explained how the tobacco ban is an infringement of personal rights.
“I am a smoker, but even if I were not I would still oppose this policy because I am a social libertarian and I think that all such regulations are a mistake,” Trifan said. “The principal thing that should be followed by universities is open discussion of ideas.”
While Daffron said she does not want to compromise student’s personal freedoms the tobacco policy is in the best interest of students.
“I also think that when something I do has a negative effect on someone else that changes it a little bit,” Daffron said. “We get many complaints and concerns about the negative impact on individuals as they walk through areas where there are people smoking … We don’t want to do anything or have in our environment things that would have a negative impact on people’s health.”
In the midst of all the philosophical implications of the tobacco policy, student Gov. Brian Shewell said that it was only a matter of time before Western would become tobacco free. St. Joseph may soon become a smoke free city, and Shewell believes that the university should serve as an example although it might take time for students to adjust to the policy.
“I think at first the students are going to be against it,” Shewell said. “It’s something that is going to take time for it to go into effect. To sum it up its going to take time for students to accept there is a policy.”
The tobacco ban has been voted down by the student body three times; however, Shewell agrees with Daffron that tobacco ban is in the best interest of the students.
“There is nothing good that comes out of smoking,”Shewell said. “I have yet to find a benefit. If one of the Griffon News readers wants to find that information and present it to me then I will think twice, but I have yet to find one.”
As Western readies to implement the tobacco-free policy, Vartabedian will appoint a Tobacco Policy Task Committee. The committee will be comprised of faculty, staff, and students who will work to ensure a tobacco-free campus.