Butt out: Resolution will create tobacco-free task force

A resolution to form a tobacco-free exploratory committee was approved 19-4 by the Student Government Association last November.

This vote in favor of the committee is expected to prompt a university-wide discussion about replacing UMKC’s designated smoking areas with a completely tobacco-free policy.

Amy Johnson, a senior biology major and the Student Representative to the University of Missouri Board of Curators, is spearheading the tobacco-free efforts.

Johnson said she met with former Missouri Students’ Association president Xavier Billingsley last year in Columbia.
“[We discussed] the possibility of moving their [MU’s] date to go smoke-free up by an entire year,” Johnson said. “When

I realized how easily and quickly this would be done, I began to examine the other policies in the [University of Missouri] system.”

The UMKC resolution approved by SGA on Nov. 12 made several references to the Surgeon General, including reports on the negative effects of second-hand smoke, smokeless tobacco and the yearly death rate of people who use tobacco products.

Dr. Eric Grospitch, Dean of Students, said any future decisions to create a tobacco-free campus would not be limited to smoking.  This would also include smokeless tobacco and hookahs, and would affect both the Volker and Hospital Hill campuses.

The 19-4 vote, with two abstentions, affirms the creation of a tobacco-free policy task force, whose recommendation would be put to a student vote.

The full version of the tobacco policy proposal includes in-depth information, such as cost effectiveness of creating a tobacco-free university, a list of Missouri campuses with a variation of smoke-free policies and a mock-up of proposed language for the immediate transition into a 100 percent tobacco-free implementation.

This 12-page policy proposal, created by Johnson and student Caleb-Michael Files, has been presented to the UMKC Faculty Senate, Student Health and Wellness, Environmental Health and Safety, student organizations and UM System President Tim Wolfe.

With the passing of the resolution, the next step is to obtain student feedback.  Johnson said the intent is to conduct several student forums on both the Volker and Hospital Hill campuses, with dates to be announced.

“SGA agreed to continue the conversation,” Grospitch said. “They should be planning a series of open forums like were done around the potential name change. Once the forums take place then SGA will need to decide how they want to move it forward to Vice Chancellor [Mel] Tyler.”

rbrooks@unews.com

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