The Collegian

Smoke-free SDSU: tobacco ban stagnant in first 60 days

Hunter Dunteman

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South Dakota State is the last of all public South Dakota Board of Regents universities to implement a ban on smoking. Implemented Jan. 1, the ban has faced scrutiny from students, student organizations and faculty alike.

“Honestly, telling us we can’t smoke or vape hasn’t done anything to stop us,” said Austin Windschitl, freshman agricultural science major.

Windschitl said smokers have simply started smoking in less visible areas on campus.

“Sure, CAs enforce it, but what they do not see or hear does not affect them,” said Jack Van Veldhuizen, freshman entrepreneurial studies major.

In a 2017 interview with The Collegian, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Doug Wermedal said the policy was never intended to micromanage smoking habits, but rather to educate and encourage a healthier environment for staff, students and the community.

The SDSU Student Health Clinic reports its new tobacco cessation service, an education program for those caught smoking on campus, has yet to have any visits from staff or students.

Jim Schmaedeke, assistant director for student conduct on campus, said he has not seen any noticeable rise in write-ups for violation of the policy. However, for the write-ups he does see, vaping is a “significant” portion of them.

Every policy has its strengths and weaknesses, Schmaedeke said.

Despite perceived ineffectiveness of the ban in combating smoking on campus, since it was implemented, SDSU has received more than $18,000 in grants, according to an article in the Brookings Register. The grants are from the American Cancer Society, the CVS Health Foundation and the Truth Initiative.

The grants will hire two students to create social media campaigns and educational materials for the yet unused tobacco cessation service, as well as provide it with fiscal support for various other purposes.

Wermedal said the ban is also a way to help bring new students to SDSU.

A 2016 study by the American Cancer Society reports 52 percent of Americans find a tobacco-free campus is an important factor in choosing where to attend.

However, prospective student Nick Jacoby from Des Peres, Missouri, said the ban is “definitely not a deciding factor,” even though he doesn’t like people smoking around him.

Though there is still doubt on the actual effectiveness of the policy, students and staff have accepted it is here to stay. “I guess we’ll have to see how it goes,” Windschitl said.

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Smoke-free SDSU: tobacco ban stagnant in first 60 days