University considers becoming a tobacco free campus

By Abby Shifley and By Abby Shifley

In May 2016, the University received a grant of $20,000 from the American Cancer Society to help in the process of becoming a tobacco free campus.  The University was one of 20 universities in the country to receive this grant.

Since then, the University has been making more of an effort to gain support from the Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate Student Senate to make the University tobacco free but has been met with some resistance.  

Faith DeNardo, director of Wellness Connection, said that she has met with the USG and is meeting with GSS this Thursday to discuss this issue.  She said that the University is the only public institution in the state that has not gone tobacco free.

“It’s just the way society is moving, towards this tobacco-free environment.”

DeNardo said some employers do not hire tobacco users, so tobacco users have a limited job market.  Also, the cost of healthcare is often higher for tobacco users, and users have a higher risk of chronic illness.  DeNardo said that becoming tobacco free would definitely be good for students in the long run.

But USG has a number of concerns about becoming a tobacco-free campus.  Reagan Shull, a senator at large in the USG, said their main concern is the welfare of students who are addicted to tobacco.

“We’re concerned that if we become a completely tobacco free campus, it’s going to be hard for students to focus on school work and extracurricular activities when they’re dealing with addiction.”

Shull said USG is also concerned because it seems like the University is trying to catch up to other surrounding universities.  She also said concern comes from USG not exactly knowing how the grant money from the American Cancer Society is going to be spent.  Shull said right now it looks like a lot of it is going to be put towards advertising.

Shull said if the University is going to become tobacco free, there should definitely be a support system in place for those who are addicted to tobacco.  In addition, DeNardo said she wants to see USG coming up with solutions to the problems becoming tobacco free might cause.  Overall, there is still a lot of discussion to be had over this topic between USG and the University.