University officials prep for smoking ban

Officials, students are preparing for the ban to take effect next fall.

Kyle Stowe

The University of Minnesota is expected to become smoke-free next fall.

University officials are developing an implementation plan, and President Eric Kaler will reveal details of the new policy this semester.

The University Senate approved a measure in May to ban tobacco on the Twin Cities campus. Officials from the University administration, student government, the School of Public Health  and Boynton Health Service worked this summer to finalize the policy’s implementation.

Boynton Director and Chief Health Officer Ferdinand Schlapper said this planning can take more than a year.

“This is a very thorough process,” Schlapper said. “It’s not like you can nail up some signs in a couple weeks and start telling people ‘hey you can’t smoke, we’re smoke-free now.’”

Numerous University officials declined to comment on the details of the implementation plan. However, Schlapper said the University will set up support services and promote the policy in the coming months. Officials are looking at other schools’ examples as they draft the University’s plan, he said.

“It has really come down to a science as far as all the things you need to cover and the different players on campus that should be involved to make sure you set the table properly,” Schlapper said.

Minnesota State University-Mankato banned tobacco use in May 2012 after almost a year of planning, MSU-Mankato Health Promotion Educator Lori Marti said.

Marti said the university used the time to make changes to residence halls and admissions materials, as well as spread awareness on campus.

“We really wanted to give everyone time to adjust,” Marti said.

For MSU-Mankato Student Association Vice President Ben Shakespeare, the thorough transition period helped the school make substantial progress on its tobacco-free goals.

“It’s pretty clear that the number of people smoking around campus has reduced drastically,” Shakespeare said. “There’s a particular understanding that [smoking] is not allowed on this campus.”

Marti said she believes a long implementation process will serve the University well.

“It’s a smart move because it gives people an opportunity to have conversation about how this is going to look on our campus,” she said. “It will help a lot.”

The University of Minnesota- Duluth banned smoking in 2007 and is still adapting its smoke-free policy because not all students would follow it.

“I think the awareness of the [smoking ban] and the connection of the policy to our mission needed to be re-energized,” said UMD Vice Chancellor for Student Life Lisa Erwin. “It just was not present in folks’ minds as I think I want it to be.”