BY LORI KLEIN
For the UAS Whalesong
Welcome to our tobacco-free campus. You’ve seen the stickers and signs around campus. On July 1, 2015, UAS became a tobacco-free university. UAF and UAA will follow suit later this year.
The University of Alaska Board of Regents adopted the Smoke Free/Tobacco Free policy (P05.12.102) stating that the university is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for its students, employees and visitors by prohibiting tobacco use and smoking within its campuses and facilities. Smoking is allowed in personally owned vehicles parked or being driven on campus or on public sidewalks or public rights-of-way that border campus.
For the most part, our transition to a tobacco-free campus has been pretty smooth. Outdoor entries to buildings are generally free of smokers and second-hand smoke. There have been no major complaints to University officials. Smokers are either following the policy or being discreet. And yet.
And yet, the weather is getting worse. Standing out in the woods is much more of an inconvenience in our fall weather conditions than in the summer when the policy was implemented. More smokers are starting to test the boundaries of the policy.
“How do I confront someone who is smoking on campus?” A student asked me this question recently, and I’d like to thank that student for her question. Notice, she didn’t ask, “who do I tell?” She offered to take responsibility for enforcing the policy, which is just what the University of Alaska Board of Regents envisioned:
Implementation of this prohibition will rely heavily on the consideration and cooperation of both users and non-users of tobacco, and the willingness of all members of the university community to share the responsibility of adhering to and enforcing the prohibition, and of holding themselves and other accountable. R05.12.102 (E)(1)
Oh, but it’s so hard to confront! I’ve confronted smokers on several occasions – it’s awkward and makes me cranky. The Board of Regents recommends we confront respectfully, and I think that looks a little different whether we know the smoker or not.
With smokers I do not know, I tend to warm myself to the big moment by introducing myself and asking for their name and how they are doing. If I don’t know the smoker (maybe she’s a new student…maybe he’s a visitor), I assume they don’t know about the policy and my “confronting” looks helpful. “I’m not sure if you’re aware, but UAS is a tobacco-free university. There’s no use of tobacco products on campus property.”
They say it’s harder to confront people we know than it is to confront strangers. UAS is a small community, and so far the majority of the people I have confronted have been people I know. I still start with a friendly hello, but generally get more to the point.
What if the smoker doesn’t care? What if they are not respectful to your request? What if they tell you that no one is really going to do anything about it? What if you feel helpless and want someone to help you do the right thing?
Smoking or using tobacco products on campus is a violation of campus policy. Failure to comply with campus policies is a violation of Human Resources policies (for employees) and a violation of the Student Code of Conduct (for students). If your efforts to confront fall on deaf ears, or you see someone repeatedly violating this policy even after you’ve respectfully confronted, you can report the incident.
Can you report anonymously? Sure. The University of Alaska has established an online, confidential hotline for anonymous reports. However, anonymous reports are often difficult to follow up on. You are also welcome to report directly through the Human Resources office in the Administrative Building (796-6273) or to the Student Conduct Office at the Student Resource Center, lower level Mourant Building (796-6529).
To those of you who believe that the quality of our campus community is everyone’s responsibility and choose to confront, thank you for doing so respectfully. For those of you who violate the tobacco-free policy and are confronted, please respond with respect and comply with the policy.
For more information about the UAS Smoke Free/Tobacco Free policy, including Student and Employee Toolkits on how to communicate about the policy and campus property maps, visit: http://www.uas.alaska.edu/students/guide/other/tobacco.html
For more resources on quitting tobacco, visit Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line at alaskaquitline.com or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. UAS Student Resource Center and Health Clinic provides nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) on a limited basis for students who request assistance.