Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tobacco-free forums see ‘surprising’ turnout

By Nick Neely, News Reporter

Tobacco forums continue to dot Pacific Lutheran’s calendar with tapering attendance, diminishing to an audience of zero this month.

The Task Force on a Tobacco-Free Campus designed three forums Feb. 15-16 in an effort to continue to hear student feedback on the implementation of a tobacco-free PLU.

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“I am surprised by no turnout,” Task Force Coordinator Teri Phillips said. “I would have expected maybe not a huge crowd, but I would have expected a few people.”

Phillips said a total of 11 people attended the forums held in January.

Executive Director of Residential Life and Task Force member Tom Huelsbeck said, “We don’t quite know what it means.”

Huelsbeck said the lack of turnout could be due to waning interests, satisfaction with feedback already given or satisfaction with the resolution as drafted.

“The summer can serve as an easing-in period,” Huelsbeck said. He also said he did not think there are major revisions left to be made to the resolution.

The resolution prohibits the use of all tobacco products on campus, including but not limited to chewing tobacco, cigars and pipes.

E-cigarettes will also be banned from campus. Although they do not contain tobacco, e-cigarettes do contain water-infused nicotine. Phillips said that the purpose of this policy to improve all students’ health, which e-cigarettes obstruct.

Both Phillips and Huelsbeck said this decision did not have anything to do with insurance.

“Just because we have gone down this road does not mean it will have a direct impact on student health insurance or employee health insurance,” Phillips said. “That is not the motivating factor, and that is not the reason this was undertaken.”

The resolution goes into effect June 1.