A task force established to review West Virginia University’s tobacco use policy is ready to begin a public discussion of possible changes and has scheduled two town hall meetings in the coming weeks for input and discussion.
After gathering initial feedback through focus groups, the task force is ready to host the town hall meetings to gather perspective on the following points for consideration:
- At a yet-to-be-specified time, West Virginia University will become tobacco-free;
- The present policy requiring that all university buildings be smoke-free will be reinforced;
- As a first step toward becoming a tobacco-free campus, tobacco-free zones will be created; such zones will be focused on entryways to buildings, PRT stations, high traffic walkways, curb cuts, ramps and other features to enhance access for individuals with impaired mobility areas near building air-intakes, and the like. Further, efforts to make all buildings, including residence halls, tobacco-free will be initiated;
- Proposed boundaries of such zones will be developed by the task force with input by students, staff and faculty; suggestions regarding zones adjacent to buildings will be solicited from building occupants. Target date for completion of the planning could be as early as the beginning of Fall Semester 2011;
- Concurrently, a significant education and outreach campaign, particularly for cessation of tobacco use will be mounted (target date also beginning of Fall Semester 2011).
- Signage will likely be adapted from that presently used at the Health Sciences Center campus.
“While we are suggesting these as discussion points, the task force remains open to all suggestions and will consider all viewpoints,” said Associate Provost C.B. Wilson, chair of the 11-member task force appointed in 2009 by President James P. Clements.
The meetings are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 28, 5:30 p.m., Mountainlair Gold Ballroom and Thursday, March 3, 5:30 p.m., Erickson Alumni Center. For those unable to attend either meeting, the task force will collect comments at http://wvufaculty.wvu.edu, especially about “how best to make the project successful, beyond reasonable courtesy and collegiality.”
During the latter half of 2010, the task force initiated a series of focus groups – three for students and one each for faculty and staff. In all, 84 people participated in those focus groups.
After listening to the focus groups, the task force said it reached a “realistic consensus” that proceeding to town hall meetings around the discussion points was the best next step.
The latest task force report to Clements said it has been guided by two goals:
- To minimize exposure of the University community, while on campus, to tobacco smoke and tobacco products;
- To foster an attitude of respect for the rights of others among all members of the university community.
The current policy – created in 1990 – bans smoking in University buildings, although exceptions can be made for residence halls.
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