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Tobacco-free issue resurfaces at UW-W

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Kevin Hoffman
March 18, 2011
— A small group of students and faculty is revitalizing efforts to make UW-Whitewater the state's second campus to adopt a tobacco-free policy.

The Tobacco-Free Campus Committee held its first meeting Wednesday, discussing preliminary steps to implement a new strategy that can win support from student government and the faculty senate.


Whitewater Student Government in October halted such efforts, voting 16-4 against endorsing the idea. Representatives said they needed a more detailed plan before getting behind it.


Before graduating, former UW-W student Sarah Coons helped organize a committee to provide those details. So far, the group includes a handful of students led by graduate student Krista Paul, junior Megan Kiehl and Health Services Director Ruth Swisher.


"We need to see (a proposal) that is something the main elements of the campus really want," Swisher said. "Is this the legislation we want for our students and UW-Whitewater, and if not, what can we do to help that?"


For years, groups of UW-W students have petitioned for a smoke-free environment. That led the campus to adopt a policy in 2008 requiring smokers to stand at least 25 feet from all buildings, keeping them clear of entryways.


UW-Stout is the lone state university to have accepted a policy banning tobacco products. About two-thirds of students supported the plan through a referendum.


Coons distributed a survey to students and staff last spring that showed about 70 percent supported a tobacco-free campus.


Paul said the committee could plan a new survey that would include a broader sample of the campus. She said less than 200 people answered the first survey.


The committee has set a goal this semester of distributing a petition throughout campus. The group says it hopes to have a tobacco-free policy in place by the start of the 2012-13 school year.



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