Reminder on our Tobacco-Free Policy

On Jan. 1, 2012, the University’s Tobacco Free policy went into effect following a six-month grace period, which allowed the campus to get prepared and acclimated.  We have been very pleased with the general acceptance of this new policy and have noticed a significant decrease in the use of tobacco products on our campus.  Reports from Health Services staff also indicate a number of individuals have quit smoking or are seeking cessation assistance because of the policy change.

However, a new academic year brings new students, faculty and staff to our community who may not be fully aware of our policy, which restricts the use of all tobacco products on our campus except in private vehicles.  For those who would like more information on the policy, you can click the following link for more information:
http://www.mtsu.edu/policies/pdfs/CampusSmokingPolicy.pdf

While the habits and practices that took years to form will not easily end with the establishment of this policy, undertaking this change is in the best interest of our campus community. Our intent is to signal a change in attitudes and social norms on our campus, rooted in consideration of others and concern for their safety that will strengthen with each year.  Acceptance of this policy has come a long way in the past year, yet from my frequent walks across campus and interaction with others, I know that there are some who have interpreted our thoughtful approach as a sign that this policy cannot, or will not, be enforced. I have been disappointed to see and learn about students, faculty and staff members openly smoking on campus, sometimes inside or near University buildings.

It is important for members of our campus community to understand that compliance with our tobacco-free policy is not optional. There are consequences that will result from violating this policy, just as there are from violating any other University regulation. Students who violate this policy will be referred to Judicial Affairs and Mediation Services where the disciplinary process will be initiated which could include a disciplinary hearing.  Disciplinary sanctions will range from warnings or reprimands, to suspension or expulsion for the most egregious instances of non-compliance. Faculty and staff who fail to comply with institutional policy will be reported to their supervisors for discipline.  Consequences ranging from warnings to unsatisfactory job performance ratings (which will result in denial of any across-the-board salary increase) will be imposed.  The person confronting a smoker may ask for the smoker’s MTSU ID, which must be produced.  Failure to produce an MTSU ID is itself a disciplinary offense.

No single entity has been tasked to enforce our tobacco-free policy since it is truly a community-wide effort.  Each member of our campus should take steps to remind those violating the policy that our campus is tobacco free.   Few of us like confrontation.  But as MTSU employees, we all have the responsibility to enforce campus policy.  In order to assist those hesitant to approach a smoker, the following dialogue suggestions (which have been utilized successfully) are provided as a guide when encountering someone using tobacco on university property.  Suggested language:

“Excuse me, but MTSU is a tobacco-free campus now, so you’ll need to put out your cigarette.”
Or
“You may not be aware, but MTSU is a tobacco-free campus now.  You can smoke in your car or on off campus property, but you can’t smoke on campus.”

If the person is resistant or refuses to extinguish his/her cigarette, you should ask to see that person’s MTSU ID.  Write down the name and ID number, or photograph the card with your smartphone.  If a student, provide this information to Laura Lightsy at laura.lightsy@mtsu.edu ; if faculty or staff, send the information to Kathy Musselman at kathy.musselman@mtsu.edu.  If the individual refuses to extinguish the cigarette and/or provide an ID, contact Public Safety at 2424 and ask for assistance.

We will continue our efforts to assure that the campus is aware of our policy.  Areas where frequent violations of our tobacco-free policy have been observed will be getting more attention, ranging from increased signage to visits by Public Safety officers and others, to ensure that community members are aware of our shared responsibilities.

I appreciate your attention to this matter.