By Maleesa Johnson
Starting in fall 2014, Baylor will ban all tobacco products on campus in an effort to move forward in accordance with Baylor’s vision of progress.
The restriction of tobacco use has been an ongoing discussion, lasting more than 30 years.
In the mid-1980s, smoking was banned from the interior of every Baylor facility.
Later on, restrictions were made that prohibited people from smoking within a certain distance of entryways.
“It was a process and many folks had addressed this issue, feeling that Baylor should over the years,” said John Whelan, the associate vice president for human resources. “What really got the ball rolling was the Student Senate passed a resolution and they asked the administration to create an environment that was safer for students.”
Now, with the backing of Student and Faculty senates and Staff Council, Baylor has created a policy in which any usage of tobacco, including smoke-free tobacco, is forbidden.
The support of these entities as well as the example set by other college campuses to go smoke-free has helped fuel the decision.
“There is an absolute trend where college campuses are headed in this direction,” Whelan said. “I would expect that probably in 10 years, we won’t see a university that has a policy allowing tobacco on campus.”
This policy also allows Baylor to receive grant money for research from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). If Baylor were not at least considering the policy, any chance for research funding through CPRIT would be gone.
“The requirement in that grant is that any recipient of it has to be at least reviewing to make plans to have a tobacco-free campus policy,” Whelan said. “When we received those grants, it was a commitment that we were reviewing it. We ultimately came to the decision that if we were not going to do it, we would be closing the door for any future grants from that organization.”
Whelan said though the money received from the grant was not the driving reason, it did play a big part in the decision.
“The driving reason was that our students requested a healthier campus,” Whelan said. “They wanted an environment that didn’t create as many temptations and didn’t create the smoke and the other secondary effects as well, but primarily creating an environment that didn’t have the temptations that come with having tobacco products on campus.”
In light of the tobacco temptations Whelan mentioned, he said studies have shown that 90 percent of college students that smoke did not smoke before college.
“We don’t want to create an environment where we are making it easy for people to pick up the deadly habit,” Whelan said.
Student Senate’s role was heavily weighted in the decision, Whelan said.
Arlington junior Dominic Edwards, the internal vice president, said Student Senate discussed the issue in an effort to move Baylor forward in research.
“It really was two things,” Edwards said. “One thing really was the health concern, but the other part of it was really pushing the university forward in terms of initiative.”
Edward said he hopes it is clear they are not trying to alienate smokers. The policy does not require tobacco users to quit.
Rather the policy only forbids them from using it on campus.
The official Tobacco-Free, Smoke free website for Baylor has information to help users who want to quit using tobacco products. For more information, visit baylor.edu/tobaccofree.
The policy will be enforced in a non-threatening manner. It also encourages readers to inform anyone they may see smoking next fall to extinguish their cigarettes.