Is MNSU’s tobacco-free campus being enforced?

Living on a tobacco-free campus can be a pleasant environment to live around; but just how tobacco-free is Minnesota State University, Mankato’s campus?

First, one must begin by clarifying what it means to be tobacco-free. MNSU prohibits smoking, e-cigarettes, tobacco use and tobacco sale, as well as the use or sale of smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes, on property or in vehicles the university owns, operates or leases, according to their webpage. That being stated, the most commonly known form of consumption of tobacco is not allowed: smoking cigarettes.

This prohibition was first instated Jan. 1, 2012 in alignment with a resolution by the Minnesota State College and Universities’ Board of Trustees, which encouraged each Minnesota State institution to reduce tobacco use on campus. Although the policy was implemented and many choose to obey, some choose to look the other way at those who refuse to follow the rule. Ella May, a currently enrolled student, had a little insight towards on-campus tobacco users.

“We get a 10-minute break every day and a fellow classmate [would] tell us that she goes outside, smokes outside the building, and then comes back in, and for the first fifteen minutes of class again, it’s so hard to focus because the smell is so annoying,” she said.

Although it usually goes unsaid, many people go through the day putting up with the smells of various tobacco products, ranging from cigarette smoke, to e-cigarettes, to vapes or even the faint smell of a tobacco product. There are minor exceptions included in the tobacco policy; one of which are tobacco product use in laboratories and classroom instruction and experiments or for artistic purposes may be permitted. However, these must be pre-approved in advance by the dean of the college or his/her designee. This approval for on-campus tobacco use must be made known to the public before the time of use.

Although the policy has been passed, it is best enforced by all community members. If you feel comfortable approaching a group that may be smoking, the best way to inform them that this is a tobacco-free campus is to be friendly and polite about letting one know about the policy. If an area is repeatedly being used for a tobacco-use-zone, filling out a Hotspot Report may be needed, which can be found online on the MNSU website.

Hotspot Reports go directly from the person filling out the form to MNSU’s tobacco-free task force. Response to violations will include increased monitoring of the area, education on the tobacco-free policy, and tobacco cessation resources to individuals observed violating the policy. It will also aid in future environmental planning to deter policy violations.

Another approach to on-campus tobacco users would be to inform them of the programs available to them that assist students to stop smoking. Free kits, to students, faculty and staff, are provided in the student health services pharmacy or can be requested for free through email. The kits can be delivered to campus departments only. If a tobacco user wishes to quit, but is not a student, faculty or staff member, free cessation resources, including free email and phone coaching, are available for all Minnesotans through QUIT PLAN at quitplan.com.

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