UW-Stevens Point campus to be tobacco-free - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UW-Stevens Point campus to be tobacco-free

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) - The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus will become tobacco-free by fall 2014, following months of study about the change.

"It's time," Chancellor Bernie Patterson said Friday. "UW-Stevens Point is known for sustainability and health consciousness. This policy demonstrates our commitment to wellness."

Last spring, a Student Government Association referendum showed that 70 percent of students responding favored a tobacco-free campus.

"If we're trying to encourage the rest of the community to be healthy, we need to do the same," said Patterson.

"The students have been asking us as their representatives that they wanted something to be done about tobacco issues," added Ryan Specht, UWSP Student Government Association president.

But not everyone likes the policy.

"I'm against the policy because tobacco is a legal substance," said student Joseph Rohrer, a smoker. "It is a major inconvenience, but it's the will of the student body so, so be it."

The policy is set to take effect by next fall. But how will the university enforce it? Right now that's not clear. 

"I'm not expecting harsh penalties for those who choose to take a different path. I think mostly it's going to be peer pressure," said Patterson. "We know it will take some time. It's a cultural change."  

Patterson said a committee of faculty, staff members, students, and community members will develop a plan to implement the change. The school also plans to offer support for students and faculty who want to stop using tobacco.

The university currently allows smoking in designated outdoor areas.

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