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Could USU become Utah's third smoke-free campus?

Published: Sunday, Feb. 9 2014 8:10 p.m. MST

The move wasn't without opposition, however. Some students and faculty voiced concerns that a no-tobacco proposal was heavily influenced by monetary, political or religious agendas, Beatty said.

The university held moderated forums where students, faculty and staff expressed their views of the proposal. The school's Board of Trustees heard arguments from both sides and voted unanimously to adopt the no-tobacco policy last November.

"The policy was not to punish people. The policy was not to raise money. The policy is here to keep people healthy. This has nothing to do with religion, this is about health," Beatty said.

The policy became effective Jan. 1, making Dixie the second Utah university to have a tobacco-free campus. BYU, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has never allowed smoking on its campus. The church teaches its members to abstain from tobacco and alcohol.

Beatty said that during the policy's first year, Dixie is striving to educate more than enforce.

"This first year, we're not going to ticket someone on their first time" smoking on campus, Beatty said. "We're an educational institution, so we want to educate everyone. We'll probably give a friendly reminder that we are a tobacco-free campus.

"We're going to do our very best to help smokers," he said.

Dixie is offering cessation programs for smokers through its Health and Wellness Center. The center's coordinator, Barbara Johnson, says the primary objective is health.

"We've had calls from students, faculty and staff on what they can do with smoking cessation, and we've worked with the Southwest Health Department in putting these people through programs to help them quit," Johnson said. "We're just getting started, but the benefit is that we'll have a healthier campus, I'm sure."

Beatty said he received "inquisitive support" from other Utah institutions while advancing the policy.

"Now that it has passed, I've received numerous calls and messages from a lot of the other colleges and universities who are now pushing for it," he said.

USU is one of them.

"My goal is to have something in place (at USU) by the end of the year," Barfuss said.

If such a policy were brought into effect at USU, Davis said its implementation and enforcement would be gradual, much as policies were for WSU and Dixie.

"I would foresee this as a program that would be worked in over time with strong education and minimal enforcement upfront," Davis said.

For now, students' voices will determine to what extent USU's higher administration considers restricting smoking or all forms of tobacco use on campus.

"We want to do it the right way," Barfuss said. "In reality, it has to be a student-driven campaign. The students have to really want it. It's their university."

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com

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