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Alcohol and Other Drugs

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  • Smoking/Tobacco Policy Recommendation: Frequently Asked Questions

    Which committee made this recommendation?
    This policy recommendation was drafted and unanimously approved by the MSUM Alcohol and College Life Committee, the university committee responsible for alcohol and other drug issues, and responsible for reviewing campus policies as they relate to alcohol and other drug issues.

    What kind of research have you done?
    The MSUM student and employee tobacco/secondhand smoke survey was conducted during the Fall 2006 semester. The survey project and report was prepared for Clay County Public Health and MSUM, by the North Dakota State Data Center at NDSU. Funding was provided by the Minnesota Department of Health. The complete report is available on-line at

    The survey results document the following:

    • The majority of our students and employees recognize that both smoking and secondhand smoke are health issues.
    • The number one place that our students and employees are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke is on the MSUM campus.
    • The majority of students and employees indicate that litter caused by smoking (cigarette butts, empty packages, etc.) detracts from the appearance fo the campus.
    • The majority of students and employees believe that it is the responsibility of the campus administration to enact policies and regulations that protect members of the campus community from exposure to secondhand smoke.
    • The majority of students and employees would support a smoke-free campus.

    The committee also heeded the U.S. Surgeon Generals recent report which states that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. (See
    The committee interviewed other campuses who have gone smoke free (see below).
    The committee interviewed neighbors of the MSUM campus.
    The committee gathered cessation resources for those who wish to reduce or quit smoking.
    The committee consulted with Clay County Public Health.

    Do you have any idea how many MSUM students and employees smoke?

    34% of MSUM students and 12% of MSUM employees are tobacco users; 13% of MSUM students and 7% of MSUM employees are “regular users” of tobacco.

    Do we know if our campus supports going entirely smoke-free?

    Yes. The study shows that the majority of students and the majority of employees support going entirely smoke-free.

    If we do this, what about the surrounding neighborhoods? What would stop people from "going across the street" for a cigarette?

    That's a great question and one that the committee discussed long and hard. We know that this policy could result in folks associated with the University stepping across the street for a cigarette. That's why it the committee recommends the following:

    • First, we must communicate with the surrounding neighbors regarding this policy, the rationale behind it.
    • Second, we must provide our neighbors with the appropriate University contact information if they have problems with people smoking on, or in front of, their property.
    • Third, we must thoroughly educate and repeatedly remind our students and employees that smoking on or in front of the neighborhoods surrounding MSUM is not acceptable.

    How do you propose enforcing this policy?

    We realize that enforcing such a policy could be difficult. The Tobacco and Secondhand Smoke survey also documented that our current campus policy, which prohibits smoking within 20-feet of a building entrance, is poorly enforced. However, we must rely on one another to enforce the policy. If this policy goes into effect, we propose using the Fall 2007 semester to intentionally engage the campus community in training sessions designed to help all of us understand the policy and to train us in how to address someone who violates the policy. We recommend involving our talented art and graphic design students in helping us to design appropriate policy and cessation programming literature and campus signage. We recommend following the examples provided by Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis in their approach to training the campus community to be a part of policy enforcement. See The committee recommends using a similar strategy to prepare our own campus for policy change and enforcement.

    What about visitors or contractors that come to campus. Can they smoke here?

    No. This policy would apply to everyone. The committee recommends that there be abundant and visible campus signage regarding the policy.

    Why didn't you recommend a "smoking shelter" or some designated place where smoking is allowed..such as in designated campus parking lots?

    A designated smoking shelter or selecting areas that would allow smoking (such as in designated parking lots) would not solve the problem. If we went this direction with campus policy, we would still have to clean up the mess associated with smoking and there would still be secondhand smoke.

    Will a smoke/tobacco free campus have a negative impact on recruitment?

    No. Just the opposite appears to be true. At the March 30, 2007, Dragon Days, on the event evaluation form we asked the prospective students "If this campus implemented a policy making it completely smoke-free, would that influence your decision to attend?" The results show that for 96%, such a policy would not influence their decision or they would be more likely to attend MSUM:

    • 58% (33) - It would not influence their decision in any way
    • 39% (22) - Yes, I would be more likely to attend
    • 4% (2) - Yes, I would be less likely to attend

    What about the people who smoke? Don't they have a right to do so?

    This policy does not force people to quit smoking.

    I noticed that the recommended policy bans tobacco sales on campus. I didn't know MSUM sold any tobacco.

    MSUM currently sells tobacco products in the Dragon Stop and the Ecetera Shop. The committee strongly recommended that this practice stop.

    Did you talk to other campuses that have gone smoke/tobacco free?

    Yes. We spoke with representatives of Bismarck State College, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis, The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, Minot State University, and MeritCare Health Systems. We considered their approaches and their recommendations. We were particularly impressed with the comprehensive approach taken by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Take a look at their website at: