By Dan Henson
Prepare for nicotine withdrawal and short tempers, because the Baylor student government has plans to turn Baylor into a tobacco-free campus.
With a vote of 29-12, student government passed a campus-wide tobacco ban Thursday.
The bill, sponsored by senior senator Nick Pokorny, calls for a ban on the use of all tobacco products on campus and will also include the new Baylor Stadium.
Banned products would include cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and hookahs. The ban would apply to all people on Baylor’s campus — students, staff, faculty and visitors.
The bill would not penalize students for possession of tobacco products, but fines are planned to take effect.
“Fines for smoking on campus have yet to be set,” Pokorny said.
The resolution will not take effect unless enacted by the university, which would also be in charge of setting the fines for the proposed ban.
At print time, the university could not be reached for comment on the resolution.
In the Big 12, the University of Texas is the only other school to voluntarily enact a tobacco ban on campus.
The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University are both tobacco-free by state law and smoking is banned by law at Iowa State University.
Apart from student health, there is a financial incentive for the senate’s tobacco ban.
Baylor has brought in Dr. John L. Wood, from Yale University, thanks to a $4.2 million dollar research grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. The institute has stipulated that campuses must go tobacco free to continue to receive funding.
“If he wants to continue receiving money to do his cancer research from the grant group that has already given him that $4.2 million, he is going to need our campus to go tobacco free,” Pokorny said.
Wood joined the faculty in 2012 and has been working as the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry since then.
His highly notable research centers on the study of and treatments for cancer.
“It is very important that we are competitive with this type of research,” Dr. Kevin Jackson, vice president for student life, said.
If the ban is enacted, the university would then take on the job of notifying current and prospective students.
Pokorny expects signage on campus showing that it is tobacco free, and emails sent out by Baylor to current and prospective students to inform them of the policy change.
Joe Casey, senior senator from Phoenix, was one of the senators who opposed the bill.
“Stopping this bill would move Baylor in the right direction, away from oppressive policies,” Casey said.
Casey was just one of the senators who voiced their opposition during the debate. Among the concerns raised were the lack of an outlined enforcement policy — meaning that enforcement could either be more liberal or more oppressive than the body intended — and the extent of the tobacco products banned.
Rob Bradfield contributed to this story.