A draft policy that includes a prohibition of vaping would take Indiana State University much closer to becoming a comprehensive, tobacco-free campus.
The draft policy will be presented to ISU trustees this week as an information item, and a final policy recommendation will be submitted for the May board of trustees meeting. If adopted, implementation would be July 1.
Trustees could suggest changes prior to adoption.
ISU is primarily tobacco free but does have some outdoor designated smoking areas and it also allows people to smoke in private vehicles; ISU’s current policy took effect in 2009.
When the current policy was written, “vaping didn’t exist. So there is no official policy [related to vaping],” Mark Alesia, director of university communication, said last fall.
The proposed policy is titled, “tobacco, vapor and smoke-free campus.” If passed, it would prohibit electronic smoking devices, hookah, smoking and tobacco product use on university-owned, operated or leased property.
Use would still be permitted in “the enclosed cabin” of privately owned vehicles. Designated smoking areas “will be gradually phased out in a manner determined by the administration,” the draft policy states. No timeline is included for the phaseout.
“Enforcement will focus on education … not police officers walking around looking for people they can ticket,” Alesia said.
Peer ambassadors could assist with enforcement by providing policy education and connecting violators to cessation resources, the policy suggests. But it also suggests that violations “may be reported to the ISU police department,” with employee violations forwarded to the office of human resources for potential disciplinary action.
Student violations would be referred to the dean of students for potential disciplinary action under the Code of Student Conduct.
The significance of the policy is that “we’re addressing concerns about vaping and electronic smoking devices on campus and student health,” Alesia said. Once fully implemented, ISU would be a tobacco-free campus, with the exception of use in private vehicles.
If trustees adopt the policy in May, vaping would be limited to designated smoking areas, which eventually will be phased out, Alesia said.
President Deborah Curtis created the ISU Tobacco Free Task Force in September 2018 “following increasing concerns regarding vaping and the use of electronic smoking devices on campus.” The group issued a report in April 2019. Last fall, Curtis asked each governance unit for feedback.
Katie Lugar, ISU staff adviser to Tobacco Free Blue, said the proposal “is really moving in the right direction to help promote the health and well-being of all people at ISU, including visitors.”
Tobacco free policies “help encourage cessation and help people who want to quit,” she said. Tobacco Free Blue is a student-led organization that advocates for implementation of a comprehensive tobacco free policy at ISU.
The new Federal Tobacco 21 law, which makes it illegal for retailers to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, helps simplify enforcement, Lugar said.
Some campuses take a harder line with enforcement by fining violators and banning tobacco use in private vehicles.
Indiana State wants to focus on “connecting people to resources and doing a lot more with health education,” said Lugar, who also is assistant director of the ISU Honors College. Programming will be offered to help people with cessation.
The policy will probably need to be evaluated as time passes, she said.