Starting Wednesday, Sept. 1, smoking will be prohibited everywhere on the Fort Hays State University campus except for designated parking lots. The idea of the policy originated in the university's Student Government Association when a statewide smoking ban was passed in the Kansas Legislature.
According to the new policy, "FHSU recognizes the health and safety hazards of tobacco products and therefore prohibits the use of tobacco products within all University buildings, facilities and vehicles owned by the University, as well as other designated exterior spaces."
The ban extends beyond the main campus to the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, the Kansas Wetlands Educational Center, the University Farm, the Pavilion and the rodeo grounds. Smoking will only be allowed in designated parking lots in all of these areas.
Generally, all parking lots on campus will be designated smoking areas unless the parking lot is within 10 feet of the building. State code does not allow smoking within 10 feet of a building.
The committee, appointed by President Edward H. Hammond, consisted of people with many different perspectives on smoking to assure that the decision was made equally.
According to Dr. Tisa Mason, vice president of student affairs and chair of the committee, the committee wanted to keep the policy as simple and clear as possible, taking into consideration the fact that students, faculty, staff and visitors will all have to adhere to the smoking restrictions.
The committee also wanted to allow students and employees the option of quitting smoking by providing free cessation programs and medication through FHSU's Wellness Center and the Student Health Center. Both will remain free of charge while supplies and funding last.
"We wanted to not only market the policy and enforcement, but also health education, access to cessation programs and access to medication," said Mason. "Fort Hays has such a fabulous wellness initiative and program. It might be the motivation for some people to stop smoking ... since now they have the support to do it."
"I think one of the big things that we heard was students didn't really want to just be told they couldn't smoke here," said Tyler Thompson, Derby junior and Student Government Association president. "They wanted to be able to have that comprehensive option of going to get help. They wanted help quitting. They didn't want to just not be able to smoke here."
Thompson and Jill Moeder, Hays junior, will work the first few weeks of the semester to get the word out across campus.
Complaints concerning violations of the regulations may be submitted to the University Police Department at (785) 628-5304.
"There will be some resistance at first, and we expected that," Thompson said, "but I think that it will become less of an issue over time."