Staff and students started their spring semester on the now smoke- and tobacco-free Kenai Peninsula College campus Monday.
The policy, set for the entire University of Alaska system, has officially been in effect since Dec. 31. The use of tobacco or substitutes, vape pens or electronic inhalation devices is prohibited on all university property, and a $50 fine will be imposed on anyone caught littering tobacco-related products.
“The policy relies heavily on the consideration and cooperation of both users and non-users of tobacco, and the willingness of all members of the university community to share the responsibility of adhering to and enforcing the prohibition, and of holding themselves and each other accountable,” said Suzie Kendrick, advancement programs manager.
No additional security or staff will be hired at KPC or any university sites to enforce policies and regulations on campus, Kendrick said in a previous Clarion interview. Anyone who sees a violation is asked to respectfully advise the user of the new regulation, direct them to an appropriate supervisor or inform them of the option to consult the Student Health Clinic on cessation services, she said Monday.
“Tobacco use is highly addictive and it is not easy to quit,” Kendrick said. “For those who might not have been aware of the policy change, it might be particularly difficult.”
The policy was prompted by the Board of Regents, which wanted to create a more respectful and healthy environment for smokers and non-smokers throughout the university, and to encourage those who do smoke to quit. According to the University of Alaska Anchorage website, the amount of people on campus with respiratory conditions or who have cardiovascular disease is double the number of smokers, and triple the amount of smokers when staff and faculty are included.
“If the new policy results in someone quitting tobacco, it will be beneficial to their health and bank account,” Kendrick said. “The policy also takes away the risks of second hand smoke for non-tobacco users.”
There are a few locations around campuses that smokers may utilize.
People can use public right-of-ways or sidewalks, but neither surround KPC’s Kenai River Campus, Kendrick said. Smoking in the parking lot, as long as it is in a personal vehicle, is allowed, she said.
“I believe the transition to the new policy will be difficult particularly since (the Kenai River Campus) does not have a nearby public sidewalk and we’re surrounded by 309 acres (of forest),” said KPC Director Gary Turner in a previous Clarion interview. “On the positive side, it is hoped this will lead more tobacco users to attempt to quit.”
The regents required all campuses to adopt the new policy by the end of 2015. Administrators were given some leeway on the start date.
Most sites made the change on Nov. 19, the day of the Great American Smoke-out, but KPC, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Prince William Sound College chose Dec. 31.
Turner chose the end of the year because it gave staff more time to inform and educate their peers, students and members of the public on the requirements and expectations marked by the new policy, Kendrick said.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.