University of Kansas bans tobacco, vape use on campus

Posted at 12:02 PM, Jul 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-04 13:02:31-04

LAWRENCE, Kan. — University of Kansas students and faculty can no longer use tobacco or vaping products on campus under a new policy pushed by health-conscious students.

The university banned smoking, vaping or using any other tobacco products on school grounds as of July 1, The Kansas City Star reported. State law already bans smoking inside and immediately outside campus buildings.

The new school policy comes more than five years after a student survey found that 64 percent favored stricter tobacco policies. Faculty who responded at the time to an Office of Institutional Research and Planning survey agreed.

But the university delayed plans to formalize such a policy while dealing with last year's new state law allowing concealed handguns on campus, said Ola Faucher, director of human resources.  

A similar survey conducted in 2016 by the university's Student Senate showed that the majority of students still support a tobacco ban.

"We know the health consequences of tobacco by now," said Savannah Cox, a rising senior who is the president of Breathe Easy, a school group that has advocated for tobacco-free campus. "I thought this is definitely something we should try to get off our campus, clean the air and motivate people struggling with addiction.

The new rules affect all University of Kansas campuses, which won't have designated smoking areas. The university provides free programs at the student health center to help students fighting a nicotine or tobacco addiction. Employees can receive cessation assistance through the university's health insurance, Faucher said.

The new policy was driven by students, but it keeps the university competitive with other schools that have embraced similar changes, Faucher said.

"It has a lot to do with being a leader of thought and social change, because that's the way our culture is going," Faucher said. "There are a lot of campuses now that are tobacco-free. It places us in a more comparable position with a lot of universities when we are recruiting students."