Tech tobacco-free policy extends to campus visitors

HOUGHTON – On Sept. 3, Michigan Technological University went tobacco-free. Multiple signs are posted around campus to remind student, staff, faculty and visitors of the new policy.

As the first home football game rolls around, fans may wonder how the smoke-free ban affects them.

“Tobacco free means a tobacco-free campus for everyone,” said Travis Pierce, director of housing, residential life and crisis preparedness. “There are no special exceptions for public events.”

Pierce served as chair of the committee for implementation of the tobacco-free policy. The change started, he said, in 1994 when it was first proposed to the university senate. The change was gradual. In 2000 the university policy changed to no smoking except where permitted by administration. In 2005 they designated certain building entrances to be smoke-free, allowing smokers to smoke outside designated entrances. By 2007, residential living areas went smoke-free for all buildings and the discussion began in the student commission for a tobacco-free campus, which was adopted in 2012 and put into effect earlier this month.

Nearly the entire campus is currently a tobacco-free zone. Of the three exceptions – Mount Ripley, Danielle Heights and the Portage Lake Golf Course – only two are slated to remain tobacco-free. Danielle Heights will join the rest of the campus in fall 2014 as a tobacco-free area.

“So far it’s gone pretty well,” Pierce said. “I’ve been here for about ten years and I have seen that Michigan Tech is definitely a community where people respect each other. While there has been some dissent to the policy, people have respected it – that’s the great thing about this community.”

The campus encompasses all buildings and Michigan Tech property, including sidewalks and parking lots. There are no designated smoking areas on campus. The only location people can use tobacco on Tech’s campus is in their private vehicles.

“We are not regulating what people do in their own vehicles,” Pierce said. “So if they choose to smoke in their own vehicle that’s their own business.”

Regardless of the purpose of being on campus, the tobacco-free policy applies to everyone.

“The guiding principle behind the policy is respect for all, so if (people) happen to use tobacco products or if see others using them politely remind them we’re a tobacco-free community,” said Pierce.