Framingham State University officials are drafting a proposal seeking to make the campus tobacco-free, following over 700 colleges and universities nationwide that have also prohibited smoking on campus.
A Framingham State committee of students, faculty and staff have been studying other schools' tobacco-free policies since September, presenting their findings at a student forum earlier this week and through an online survey that they will send out later this week.
"I'd like us to be a tobacco-free campus, which would be by no means revolutionary," said Framingham State President Tim Flanagan, who approached the university with the idea early in the semester. "It's important for the health and the safety of our students, and it's important as a public institution to say we're concern about health. This is the way that we can articulate that."
The university is collecting feedback from students and workers this academic year, and will use the response to draft their own policy, which could be implemented as early as fall 2013, said university spokesman Dan Magazu.
"I do expect that there’s a lot of support for this and think it will be something we will see happen," Magazu said, noting that the university wants to draft the ban as democratically as possible. "We want the students and current faculty and staff to shape the policy so they feel comfortable with it."
Currently, smokers must stay back 30 feet from campus buildings while puffing on a cigarette, but Magazu said that students are still walking through clouds of smoke to get to class.
He said that at a student forum held Monday, about 20 pupils came to hear the menu of options from other schools.
About half the students opposed the proposed ban at the forum, Magazu said.
"Some people just don’t like the idea, because they think it goes too far, and some people smoke and don’t want to have to go off campus," he said. "But while people feel like they have the right to smoke on campus, we think people also have a right to not breathe in secondary smoke."
If the university implements the ban, they will also offer programs to work with smokers to help them kick the habit for good, Magazu said.
"We would have cessation programs - you can't just say, 'Smokers, you're out of luck," he said. "We want to help them quit smoking."
Magazu said that if the policy garners enough support to pass, university officials will also have to figure out how to enforce it.
He said officials might consider some form of disciplinary action for repeat offenders, but most likely, it would fall on the shoulders of the community as a whole to enforce the ban.
"Everyone would be responsible, and would collectively agree to enforce it," Magazu said. "So if one student saw another person smoking, they'd say, 'That’s not cool, that’s not allowed here.'"
Currently, several other public institutions in Massachusetts have implemented a tobacco-free policy, including Salem State University, Bridgewater State University, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, among others, Magazu said.
"We're by no means breaking any new ground - 750 universities across the country have done something like this, and that number rises every year," he said.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org