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Optimism is hurting Tobacco Free Wu & Me

Tuesday+evening%2C+KSN+interviewed+WSU+students+on+their+perception+on+the+policy+now+four+months+into+effect.+Students+saw+both+smoking+and+non-smoking.
Tuesday evening, KSN interviewed WSU students on their perception on the policy now four months into effect. Students saw both smoking and non-smoking.

Tuesday evening, KSN interviewed WSU students on their perception on the policy now four months into effect. Students saw both smoking and non-smoking.

Brian Hayes

Brian Hayes

Tuesday evening, KSN interviewed WSU students on their perception on the policy now four months into effect. Students saw both smoking and non-smoking.

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Optimism is good. I wish I had more optimism. I should have a glass half-full viewpoint when I evaluate things going on at Wichita State.

If you see everything in life as a glass half-full, at some point you’re going to run into trouble.

Sometimes people are far too optimistic and they force the glass half-full concept into matters of policy. That’s the case of Tobacco Free Wu & Me, WSU’s initiative to limit tobacco usage of any kind on the main campus.

Tuesday evening, KSN interviewed WSU students on their perception on the policy now four months into effect. Students saw both smoking and non-smoking.

Sedgwick County Tobacco Control Coordinator Tara Nolen helped develop the policy at WSU. Now she works on its enforcement.

“I think some people are choosing to ignore the policy,” Nolen told KSN. Those behind the initiative are finally revisiting this policy with a glass half-empty mindset. Maybe.

Nolen said student ambassadors — a class of about 20 students from the department of public health sciences — are monitoring campus tobacco usage. Those student ambassadors, Nolen said, notice smoking on campus.

Student ambassadors have no power to penalize tobacco users. They’re instructed to provide tobacco users with an information card listing policy and cessation instruction.

Nolen had a humorous response on the policy’s poor effectiveness.

“When the policy was developed, it was really hopeful that everybody would just follow it because that’s what we’re supposed to do when there is a rule, you follow the rule,” Nolen said in the interview with KSN.

Without penalty, what’s the good of a policy? Does anyone really care?

We’re supposed to drive 20-mph through the construction on 17th St. The sign says so. By the sign’s implication, the rule is not to drive 20-mph through the traffic cones. But hardly anyone I’ve seen drives that slowly through the orange-cone-lined street.

Signs at the local movie theatre ask you not to bring outside food or drink inside. It’s frowned upon to bring your own candy or snacks. If you go to the movies, you should pay $6 for a bag of M&Ms. But if you go to QuikTrip and buy a bag of M&Ms for $1, toss it in your pocket and go to the movies, you’re not committing a crime.

There’s a rule — clearly defined and posted at the door — that everyone is consciously aware of. Rules are rules, right? When there is a rule, you follow the rule. What more is required than to expect 100 percent compliance for a rule like that?

A lot, actually.

Movie theatre employees might notice the bag of M&Ms sticking out of your pocket, and they might discourage it, but it doesn’t matter. If the 18-year-old working the ticket both offers you explaining you why the theatre doesn’t want you to bring in your own snacks, it’s not going to change your mind.

Nolen said when the policy was written, WSU did not want to penalize violators. Now, they’re revisiting this and looking at possible punishments.

Until then, some will light a cigarette up, sneak M&Ms into the movies, or speed through the traffic cones on 17th Street.

How about we apply a realistic view to this less-than-perfect campus policy? WSU has clearly been too optimistic on the expected effectiveness of this.

If WSU insists on Tobacco Free Wu & Me being a real policy, then expectations must be something more than just counting on the goodwill of 15,000 students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

5 Comments
  • Athletics

    When it was first discussed several years ago the immediate concern was how donors at baseball and men’s basketball games would be treated. Apparently those were major considerations and exceptions were made right away. Go to the northwest side of Koch Arena by loading docks and watch how many people go out the door to smoke and then come back in. I don’t know why anyone would take the policy seriously.

    [Reply]

  • A Shocker 4 Life; or maybe 4 years, 9 months and 2 days…

    Additionally it was to be those F/S who violated this policy would receive written documentation regarding this issue and it would become part of their personnel evaluation. However in speaking with many the evaluation process on campus is not consistently followed; some do not receive evaluations for years at a time and in many instances those administering the evaluations do not provide critical or negative feedback to those they lead/supervise so as to not hurt the feelings of others or make someone “angry.” Add in to the mix that many do not receive raises for years at a time (unless of course you are on the PET team) that many do not feel it is fair to provide critical feedback to an individual knowing full-well the individual has not received a raise for 3-4 years.

    The policy is a step in the right direction for the campus and those considering studying or working there. However changing culture and the campus environment will take time and there is of course room to improve any policy after the initial year and after issues which need improvement have been identified. Articles like this help as if nothing else it illuminates areas that can and should be improved.

    [Reply]

  • Steve

    Any penalties they come up with will go away if someone challenges them in court. The WSU campus is public property and it is legal to smoke outdoors in Kansas. So, smokers are not doing anything illegal and cannot be punished or asked to leave public property. Unless people voluntarily cooperate, the WSU tobacco free policy is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

    [Reply]

  • Dan

    I get people being put off by the smell of smoke but banning smoking campus wide? Of course people are going to ignore the rules. For some students and staff it’s a 10 minute walk both ways to get off campus.

    Designated smoking / vaping areas would have been more constructive and satisfied both parties.

    [Reply]

  • Rob Moffatt

    California isn’t alone in this “crisis”, it’s an “epidemic” of “pandemic” proportions among our academia. Remember Nuremberg, least we forget….

    A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California

    https://www.nas.org/images/documents/A_Crisis_of_Competence.pdf

    We Used Terrible Science to Justify Smoking Bans

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2017/02/secondhand_smoke_isn_t_as_bad_as_we_thought.html

    The Case Against Smoking Bans

    https://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=693102115122092117001006124101009124025033010045057018088110127064104120106066113014024027057111007030003094067080005001119119055060083034099127121002029117097049061013016017066029080073071105126117004117000127125031064126102012025074021115029098&EXT=pdf

    [Reply]

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