Campus-wide tobacco ban effort looks to gain support at KU

Target implementation date still a year and a half away

Leaders of Kansas University’s Tobacco Free KU initiative continue to drum up support for banning all forms of tobacco from campus.

The target date for implementing a tobacco ban at KU is now July 2017, KU human resources director Ola Faucher said Thursday during a report to the University Senate.

“It’s still in that policy formulation, gaining-support phase,” she said.

As KU works toward implementing a tobacco-free policy, similar efforts in town and beyond are gaining steam, Faucher said.

The Kansas State Department of Health and Environment’s state tobacco control plan supports tobacco-free campuses because research indicates most people pick up smoking between the ages of 18 and 24, Faucher said.

The KU Medical Center, Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State university campuses already are tobacco-free, she said. She said tobacco-free initiatives have begun at Kansas State, Wichita State and Emporia State universities.

Nationwide, about 1,130 college campuses are now tobacco free, she said.

The city of Lawrence is working on a tobacco-free policy for all city parks, and both Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., just raised the age to purchase tobacco to 21, Faucher noted.

KU Provost Jeff Vitter said he supports Tobacco Free KU, in part because it could boost the KU Cancer Center’s quest to attain Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, its next goal after getting the prestigious National Cancer Institute designation in 2012.

“An initiative like this would reinforce the commitment of the university to a healthy campus,” Vitter said.

The Student Senate is planning a public forum on tobacco use in late January, Student Body Vice President Zach George said.