Beginning September 2014, students, employees and visitors of Western Michigan University will not be able to smoke on WMU’s campus.
WMU’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a tobacco-free policy at the last meeting of the year on Dec. 5 in the Bernhard Center. The policy bans all forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, chew and others on WMU property beginning in September 2014. The exception to the policy is that smoking will be allowed in enclosed vehicles.
The tobacco-free policy will place WMU among just over 1,100 smoke-free and over 700 tobacco-free colleges, according to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Other Michigan universities developing tobacco policies include Central Michigan University, which will be going tobacco-free in July 2014, and Northern Michigan University which is considering implementation of a policy.
The purpose of the ban, according to vice president of student affairs Diane Anderson, is to enhance the health and wellness of the campus community in following with the fourth goal of WMU’s strategic plan.
Leading into the policy change, three surveys were conducted by the university and the results were used to modify the tobacco-free policy. The surveys conducted included one of all 4,086 WMU employees, one random sample survey of 6,500 WMU students and employees and one random sample of 5,000 students, according to Anderson. The results of the surveys were shared at the July Board of Trustees meeting.
An implementation committee was created to oversee the implementation of the policy moving forward, according to Anderson. The committee consists of students—both undergraduate and graduate, faculty and staff. The committee also includes interesting departments such as Sindecuse Health Center, University Recreation and Human Resources.
Violation of the policy will be addressed through self-monitoring, according to the agenda, and not through fines or other monitoring activities.
A website has been dedicated to the tobacco-free policy, according to Anderson. Resources on the website include frequently asked questions and free cessation services.