KU’s campuswide smoking, tobacco ban going into effect Sunday; here’s what you should know

photo by: Journal-World File Photo

In this file photo from January 2009, a University of Kansas student takes a smoke break outside the Kansas Union.

On Sunday, the entire University of Kansas system — including the Lawrence campus — will officially become tobacco-free, banning the use of cigarettes, e-cigs, cigars, chewing tobacco and all other related products both indoors and out.

The move to create healthier campuses follows years of planning and policy development by student government representatives, with co-sponsors in KU’s human resources department, Watkins Health Services and KU Recreation Services.

When the ban goes into effect Sunday, KU will be joining “the majority” of higher education institutions in the country that have already gone smoke-free, many of which are also tobacco-free, KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson told the Journal-World earlier this summer.

As of April 1, there are more than 2,100 smoke-free campuses in the U.S., according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Of these, more than 1,800 are also 100 percent tobacco-free.

Here’s a breakdown of what the tobacco ban means for KU, how it differs from previous policies, what’s allowed, what’s prohibited and the university’s other efforts in curbing tobacco use.

Before the ban…

Up until Sunday, tobacco use — including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products — is still allowed on the Lawrence campus, but only outside and at least 20 feet away from buildings. Come Sunday, that will no longer be the case.

Smoking and tobacco use had already been prohibited in several locations across the main campus, including Memorial Stadium, the Kansas Memorial Unions, the Adams Alumni Center and facilities at the KU Center for Research Inc., according to KU policy. KU’s medical center campuses had also implemented tobacco-free policies long before the systemwide ban.

What’s allowed

There are a few exceptions to the ban, namely the traditional or sacred use of tobacco. This includes Native American spiritual and cultural ceremonies where tobacco is customarily used, a tradition KU will continue to honor if requests are made and approved in advance by the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.

The new policy also doesn’t apply to tobacco use in personal vehicles or in properties leased by KU where offices occupy a portion of a building not owned by the university.

What’s not allowed

Any and all tobacco use not exempted by the policy — cigarettes, e-cigs, cigars, chewing tobacco and all other tobacco products. This covers the entire KU system, including the main campus in Lawrence and university sites in Overland Park, Topeka, Parsons, Yoder and Kansas City, Kan. The ban extends to all KU students, faculty, staff and campus visitors.

What happens if you get caught

The policy states that employees and students may face disciplinary action through the university’s existing disciplinary processes. It does not outline any specific punishments for people who are not faculty or students who violate the tobacco ban, but it does say that people who violate the ban might end up “excluded” from campus.

Aside from the university’s own policy, there’s still state statute to contend with. Under Kansas law, those who violate the state’s ban on smoking in enclosed areas and public meetings may face fines ranging from $100 to $500.

How KU is helping students and employees kick the habit

• Assistance for faculty and staff in overcoming tobacco and nicotine use or addiction is available through the State of Kansas Employee Health Plan’s Tobacco Cessation program, for those eligible. More information can be found at www.kdheks.gov.

• Assistance for students is available through the Watkins Student Health Center’s KanUQuit program, online at www.studenthealth.ku.edu/hero.

• The Tobacco Free KU website, www.tobaccofree.ku.edu, offers a list of resources for quitting smoking, including the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s KanQuit program, which is available to anyone, KU-affiliated or not.

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