SDSU campus hopes to clear the air by going tobacco-free

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Published: Feb. 2, 2017 at 6:53 PM CST
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It's an issue that's been lighting up communities, businesses, and college campuses across the country - smoking.

Momentum to ban the legal activity is growing around South Dakota, and now the state's largest school is hoping to clear the air with a campus-wide ban.

It may have been because of the cold, but not many people were spotted smoking around campus Thursday.

And now they won't have a choice, after years of hard work by students to make their campus tobacco-free.

"It has certainly been a process, like I mentioned earlier, this was a three-year process for the Students' Association," SDSU Students' Association President Allyson Helms said.

South Dakota State is the only state university without a smoking or tobacco free policy.

It's working to change that.

The Student Senate passed a resolution Monday endorsing its support of a smoke-free campus.

"People should be able to chose what they want. You can't tell anyone who does smoke and chew that they can't do it because it's America, they have the right to," student Natasha Klein said.

While some students disagree with the potential policy, others are on board.

"No smoking, that's fine with me, I guess I don't smoke personally, but it's better for the health of students and everything, and for the atmosphere as well, it keeps a cleaner campus with the cig butts," student Drew Schwarzrock said.

"There about 3,000 campuses in the U.S. and already 1,400, so about half, have tobacco-free policies in place, and so we are trying to make sure our policies reflect contemporary practice," Doug Wermedal said.

Wermedal is the associate vice president of student affairs for SDSU.

He said the use of tobacco makes it difficult to have a safe environment for all students.

"If you have a focus on wellness on campus then you need to take a look at everything that impacts campus environment, and the use of tobacco would be one of those things," Wermedal said.

SDSU is the last state school without any policy against smoking or tobacco use on campus. Student Affairs will meet with the Faculty Senate this month to see if they endorse the policy.

University leaders say the earliest the tobacco-free policy could take affect is July 1.

(This story has been edited to correct the date of when the policy could take effect and Doug Wermedal's title.)