Southeast to Become Smoke-Free, Tobacco-Free Campus

The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today revised a policy, making the University a smoke-free, tobacco-free campus beginning with the fall 2017 semester. The new policy prohibits smoking and using tobacco products by students, faculty, staff and visitors on all University properties and in all University facilities and vehicles. Prohibited products include lit cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes and smoking products, products or devices used to smoke or mimic smoking – such as hookahs and vaporizer -- and the use of smokeless tobacco products – dip, chew or snuff in any form. According to the revised policy, smoking and the use of tobacco products will be allowed only at designated outdoor smoking areas outside of the Show Me Center and the River Campus Cultural Arts Center during public events or performances. The revised policy also prohibits the sale, distribution or free sampling of tobacco products on campus and littering the campus with remains of tobacco products or any other disposable product. The smoke-free, tobacco-free status will take effect Aug. 21, the first day of the fall 2017 semester. This will allow time to educate the campus community on the new policy and offer smoking cessation programs for students, faculty and staff, said Kathy Mangels, vice president for finance and administration. The Office of Student Conduct and Southeast Human Resources will handle noncompliance by students and faculty and staff members, respectively, and could result in disciplinary action. Southeast’s policy on smoking and the use of tobacco products has evolved over the years. On Aug. 1, 2008, a policy was implemented prohibiting smoking both indoors and outdoors on University property, except in designated areas. That measure also prohibited smoking in University vehicles and using smokeless tobacco inside University buildings other than student residential housing units. An ad hoc committee studied the issue after members of the University community expressed concerns and national trends at that time indicated tobacco products on college campuses were being restricted. In September 2013, the policy was updated to include other products that produce nicotine, such as electronic cigarettes. At that time, Mangels said, members of the campus community suggested Southeast become a completely tobacco free campus. The University reconvened a task force to consider that recommendation, but no consensus was reached at the time. Over the last four years, student perceptions of smoking and tobacco use have changed, according to data from the Missouri College Health Behavior Survey administered annually by the Missouri Partners in Prevention program, she said. Since 2013, the number of students in Missouri using tobacco products and cigarettes has steadily decreased. Over 70 percent of Southeast students completing the survey each year since 2014 have indicated they support having a completely tobacco free campus.