College to ban smoking

Westminster College will become a smoke-free campus on July 1, says Westminster President Dr. George B. Forsythe.

Smoking will be banned both indoors and at all outdoor places on campus. The campus is defined as “all owned facilities, athletic venues and college-owned facilities, athletic venues and college-owned residential facilities.” It includes the campus areas from Jefferson Street to Hackberry (east of Hickman) and West 8th Street to West 4th Street and inside all college-owned vehicles.

Fraternity houses will follow national fraternity guidelines and remain smoke-free indoors. Fraternities that opt to allow smoking on their property will be confined to one designated outdoor smoking area that is located away from main entrances, walkways and windows and has an appropriate cigarette disposal container.

Faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors who wish to smoke will be restricted to inside their personal vehicles or outside of campus property.

After the campus ban on smoking is imposed on July 1, all current campus-designated smoking areas will be eliminated.

The smoking ban on the campus has sparked opposition from Omer Aswad, who sent an e-mail to the Fulton Sun saying he is a student on campus and already has more than 80 students supporting opposition to the campus policy imposed by the college administration.

“In a democratic environment and especially on a college campus, banning things is not the way to go,” Aswad said.

Aswad said his group protests the policy of banning smoking totally from Westminster. “And we demand in this group to keep the current policy of having few smoking areas on campus,” Aswad said.

He said the group wants to protect the freedom and right of smokers and nonsmokers.

“Smoking not only affects the smoker, but secondhand smoke is harmful to others,” says Amanda Stevens, a health educator from Counseling and Health Services at Westminster. “A smoke-free campus promotes a healthier environment for everyone. Westminster College cares about its community and this policy fits with the overall values of the College.”

Stevens also is leading a campaign to impose a smoke-free Fulton through an organization known as Fresh Air Fulton.

Stevens said Westminster has received a $227,000 grant to help educate the people of Fulton about the dangers of secondhand smoke and to persuade people to stop smoking.

She said the grant came from the Missouri Foundation for Health, which is not funded by the government. The Missouri Foundation for Health was created 10 years ago when Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Missouri was converted from nonprofit to for-profit status. Money from the conversion was placed into the foundation that makes health-related grants.

Stevens said surveys on the Westminster campus show that 12 percent of the students are smokers and 70 percent of student smokers oppose the campus ban on smoking.

However, she does not believe any of them will switch schools because of the new policy banning smoking on campus except for designated areas outside fraternities.

“Students who smoke can go off campus or smoke in their own cars if they want,” she said.

Stevens said surveys of Westminster students show 76 percent of them support a campus-wide ban on smoking.

Stevens said Westminster students, staff and faculty who smoke can receive free counseling as well as free nicotine patches and nicotine gum to help them stop smoking.

Stevens appeared before the Fulton City Council Tuesday night in behalf of Fresh Air Fulton.

“I am disappointed that the council decided to refer the issue to a vote of the people,” she said.

But Stevens predicted the people of Fulton will support the ban on smoking in all public places in Fulton.

Stevens said she believes Fresh Air Fulton will mount a successful media campaign for the Nov. 2 election.

Stevens said Westminster and the Fulton YMCA are working together to tackle the high incidence of smoking and obesity in Callaway County.

Westminster is using the $227,000 grant to encourage Callaway County residents to stop smoking and the YMCA has received grants relating to obesity, Stevens said.

Stevens said research shows that 24 percent of all Missourians smoke, compared to a nationwide average of 20 percent. She said surveys show 27 percent of residents of Callaway county are smokers.

Westminster joins 381 other colleges and universities to adopt a campus-wide smoking ban.

Arkansas and Iowa have instituted statewide smoking bans on all public colleges and universities.

Other examples of smoking bans include the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, Oklahoma State University and Purdue University.

In Missouri, Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville and Washington University in St. Louis both have a campus ban on smoking.

Cheap drugs against smoking in the best online drugstore.

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