MSU Weighs Options on Campus Tobacco Policy

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MURRAY LEDGER & TIMES | HAWKIN TEAGUES | NOVEMBER 4, 2014

In the wake of a recent gubernatorial executive order, Murray State University is in the process of deciding if it will make changes to its on-campus tobacco policy.

On Sept. 4, Gov. Steve Beshear issued an executive order stating that all state buildings, grounds and fleet in Kentucky will become free of all tobacco products and e-cigarettes as of Nov. 20. MSU President Dr. Bob Davies said  universities and prisons were not under the direct order, but were “highly encouraged” to follow the same path. Because of the order, the MSU Insurance and Benefits Committee charged the Smoke Free Committee with investigating options for updating Murray State’s own tobacco policy.

MSU employees and students were recently sent an email encouraging them to answer a survey so the Smoke Free Committee could gather information about the use of tobacco and vaping — or vaporizer — products on campus. The email said the committee would also give them feedback regarding the possible implementation of a smoke-free or tobacco-free policy, helping guide the committee in recommending the best course of action. The survey is at www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=dwoCTvmv1ceaRuurtUEZ0w_3d_3d, and questions or comments were directed to Smoke Free Committee Chair Cris Ferguson at cferguson13@murraystate.edu.

Davies said that even before Beshear’s executive order, the Smoke Free Committee had already been looking at what a smoke-free or tobacco-free policy would mean financially for the university in terms of insurance and benefits. He said would present the committee’s recommendation to the MSU Board of Regents at its next meeting on Thursday, Dec. 4.

“Since they were already working on this, I empowered and empaneled them to provide more in-depth research and thoughts on going completely smoke-free, going completely tobacco-free or kind of keeping what our policy is now, but with some important tweaks that I think need to occur,” Davies said. “A survey went out to campus (Oct. 22) to all faculty, staff and students asking them if they would support one of those three options or all of them or none of them and then also kind of (providing) an open forum.

“At the board meeting on Dec. 4, I know this will be discussed by the board. The outcome that I forsee would be a directive to me to design and begin implementation of one of those three areas. I do not know where the board will come down on this. I’ve talked to quite a few of the board members about it, and there’s a wide array of opinions and thoughts on it.”

Since he started his duties as president this academic year Davies said he had had several lunches with students to give them the opportunity to talk about any topic they wished. He met with 12 students at one recent meeting, and when asked which one of the three options they would choose, they evenly split three ways. He said this was similar to discussions he had had with faculty and staff.

Currently, MSU does not allow smoking inside any of its buildings and there is one building on campus that does not allow smoking within 25 yards surrounding it, Davies said.

Read the article online.