Tricia Tuntland | Staff Writer | 11-13-2012
According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, there are about 824 college campuses that are smoke free, 608 of which have a tobacco-free policy. There are currently 13 colleges and universities in Minnesota that are either smoke-free campuses or have a tobacco-free policy.
As of April 2011, Bemidji State University became a tobacco-free campus that strives to ensure faculty, staff, students and visitors are provided with a healthy and safe environment while on BSU’s campus.
After research in 2009-2010 on smoke-free campuses and the risks of exposure to second-hand smoke, “student leaders communicated to the administration their recommendation that Bemidji State University become a 100% smoke free campus,” according to the history of the Tobacco Free Campus Policy.
Although the policy is primarily focused on banning the use of cigarettes on campus, the Tobacco-Free Campus Policy defines tobacco as, “any lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, bidi, clove cigarette, electronic cigarettes and any other smoking products; and smokeless or spit tobacco, also known as chew, snuff or snus, in any form.”
The use of tobacco in a person’s vehicle is not yet prohibited. Students who wish to smoke are asked to leave BSU’s campus. City-owned sidewalks, streets and crosswalks are not in the university’s jurisdiction. Students, however, are reminded to be respectful of non-university owned properties while smoking.
“I don’t mind the smoking ban,” said BSU freshman and smoker, Abbie Yoemans. “If I want to smoke on my way to class, I walk on the road and I make sure to be conscious of those around me so I am not blowing smoke in their direction.”
While many students seem to approve of the new tobacco policy, smokers such as freshman Brenden Amberg would like to see a few changes made. “The policy isn’t going to make me stop smoking,” said Amberg, “but I think it would be nice if we had a place to throw the butts at, instead of throwing them into the street or sidewalks. We don’t like the way they look laying around everywhere either.”
Student senate Co-President Kari Cooper said, “We have had a lot of students ask us if we can get designated smoking spots on campus… ultimately the administration just decided and we decided as a senate that it is not an appropriate step to take, but we are still looking for ways to get the word out.”
Rumors that Bemidji State Public Safety has been handing out tickets to students and faculty are false. “In the event of a violation, the person will be informed of the Bemidji State University Tobacco-Free Campus Policy. Should that person continue to violate the policy, a report should be made to the appropriate office…,” states the Tobacco-Free Campus Policy.
In the event a student should be found violating the policy and a report is made against him or her, it would be brought to the attention of the university conduct officer. If further violations are made, he or she will be disciplined according to the Student Code of Conduct.
To report a violation, students are encouraged to go to the Tobacco Free BSU website at http://www.bemidjistate.edu/about/tobacco_free/ and submit a report. While some may feel uncomfortable with asking students to adhere to the policy, freshman Taylor Farr said, “If I knew the person, I would tell them to go somewhere else, but if I didn’t know them I would feel intimidated at first.”
More information regarding the policy can be found in the student code of conduct at http://www.bemidjistate.edu/students/handbook/conduct/.