Designated areas to light up will be snuffed out May 1 on the Riverpoint Campus of Washington State University.
The ashtrays will be gone and the nearest smoking area will be across the street when the Spokane campus, which features health science programs, becomes the first four-year public university in Washington to be tobacco free, indoors and out.
“We wanted to foster a culture of healthy living and positive health practices,” said Trevor McLay, student body vice president, who helped lead the effort to change the policy. “As students of a variety of health care professions, we felt this campus could lead the way in making this positive and beneficial change.”
The Riverpoint Campus, where nearly 4,000 students attend classes, joins about 110 colleges nationwide and Clark College, a two-year institution in Vancouver, Wash., in banning smoking campuswide, according to the Washington state Department of Health. The University of Washington and Washington State University have policies prohibiting smoking in campus residential buildings.
WSU Spokane’s policy includes more than cigarettes – the most common and visible tobacco. Cigars, hookah pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes and electronic cigarettes are also included.
“It’s important to us to establish a campus culture that supports health in all aspects as an expression of our values,” said WSU Spokane Chancellor Brian Pitcher.
Efforts to make the campus tobacco-free began last spring and there was little opposition, said McLay, who cited results from a survey.
“Of the 189 students who responded to the survey, close to 88 percent of students supported implementing a tobacco-free campus policy,” he said. “The student senate then drafted a resolution outlining the reasons for the proposed initiative and voted to pass it in April 2011.”
Eastern Washington University, which also has programs on the Riverpoint Campus including its business school, supported the policy change too.
“We are committed to encouraging healthy environments and personal well-being for students, faculty and staff,” said Dave Meany, EWU spokesman. “We are presently taking steps to ensure that students are aware of the policy change.”
There isn’t an enforcement mechanism in the policy, McLay said. “At most colleges, the issue really takes care of itself.”
McLay and other student body members spoke with four-year universities that were already 100 percent tobacco free and found it had gone well, he said.
Clark College was the first higher education institution in the state to become 100 percent tobacco-free. The community college made the change in 2006.
“It was an incredibly smooth transition,” said Barbara Kerr, Clark College spokeswoman. “It was extremely well received at the college.”