While RMC works on developing a campus-wide Tobacco Free policy, confusion among students has been raised regarding what the policy actually is and how it will affect them. The policy, which is still in the works of being created by a designated Task Force, means RMC will prohibit use of tobacco and tobacco products (including advertising literature) on its property.
The proposed idea is meant to provide a cleaner and healthier campus, reduce harmful exposure, and provide resources and support for those wishing to quit. One student tobacco user, who wished to remain anonymous, commented, “As it stands now, the school views tobacco use as a nasty habit, rather than an addiction. As a smoker on campus, I feel that forcing me to cease tobacco use will strongly affect my grades. I get physically uncomfortable without a cigarette, and it makes it hard to focus.” Jill Washburn, Community Service Coordinator and leader of the Tobacco Free Task Force, said, “We are not asking people to quit, just asking to not do it on campus.”
With the acceptance of the policy, those on campus who use tobacco would have access to cessation products that would provide a safer alternative to those around them. When informed of the option of being provided with these products (such as nicotine patches or gum), the same student said it would be “greatly appreciated. The ‘quit kits’ handed out now are pretty much mints and inspirational quotes. I’m not looking to quit smoking because a school tells me to, so the school would have to provide cessation products constantly.”
The policy is aimed to take effect July 2015. According to Jayme Green, the Director of Campus Safety Programming and member of the Task Force, the idea of going tobacco free has been rumbling on campus for the past four or five years. Many area businesses and MSU-B are “smoke-free” grounds. The prohibition on RMC property affects not only campus buildings, parking lots, and residence halls, but also area businesses that share the block, Veterans Park, and Billings Studio Theater.
Some students feel that a completely tobacco free campus is still drastic within such a short span of time. “I would much prefer designated areas for smoking away from the main sidewalk and buildings so no one else is bothered by the smoke,” said one student. The current residence life policy states that any use of tobacco products (smoking, chew, etc.) be done within a designated area 50 ft away from any building.
After gaining approval from cabinet groups (such as Faculty, Sodexo, and ASRMC), a finalized policy can then be announced. The Task Force then hopes to hold forums and discussion groups open to students. Students can also complete surveys during the last week of March to provide feedback.
The Tack Force aims to make the tobacco free transitoin as smooth as possible for all RMC community. During the development process, however, what has surprised some team leaders is the number of non-smoking students who are not in support of activating the policy. “It’s amazing to see the reaction from non-smokers,” said RMC Chaplain Kim Woest, “they end up not supporting the policy because of the way it is impacting their friends. Simply because they care.”