Students returning to UW Stevens Point will be greeted by a different campus for the upcoming semester, as it is now tobacco free.
"Overall, I think everybody understands that this is about the greater public health and trying to keep everybody healthier, and not exposing them to something you're choosing to do as an individual," UW Stevens Point Health Services Administrative Director Jen Sorenson said.
The student government body was mixed about what should be done to change the college's previous tobacco policy, which only enabled usage of tobacco products within 30 feet of buildings. So they let the students decide.
"There are many students within student government who are smokers," UW Stevens Point Student Government Association President Chris Slattery said. "So there was a lot of back and forth for quite a long time. Which is why the referendum came from direct vote of the students."
The options for students were to maintain the current tobacco policy, create designated smoking areas on campus, banning smoking only, or, the option that was ultimately decided, having a completely tobacco free campus. Besides common tobacco products such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes are also banned from the campus.
"Electronic cigarettes are a nicotine delivery device rather than a tobacco product," Sorenson said. "But we did include them in the ban because we know they're not considered safe yet by the FDA."
The campus ban has so far been met with mixed feelings from both students and staff.
"We've had tobacco users, both student and staff, that have been concerned about how this would affect them as individuals," Sorenson said.
"It gets a mixed opinion depending on if you are a smoker or a non-smoker. But it seems that the biggest thing was just figuring out where students are able to go and what the implementation of the policy is," Slattery said.
The college is currently using what they consider "polite reminders" and signs to enforce the new ban across campus, as a new academic year begins to unfold.