SENATE COMMITTEE ON FACULTY BENEFITS
SENATE COMMITTEE ON STUDENT LIFE
Smoking/Tobacco Use Policy
Implementation: Upon Approval by the President
Introduction and Rationale
The Senate Committee on Faculty Benefits and the Committee on Student Life have been asked to consider the question of possible change to the Penn State University Smoking policy. The present policy (AD 32) reads:
Smoking of any material is prohibited in all University facilities, at all locations, including University-owned vehicles. It also is prohibited in any outside area adjacent to a facility whose configuration and/or other physical circumstances allow smoke either to enter and affect the internal environment or to unduly affect the environment of those entering or exiting the facility. Exemptions to this policy may be made by the Smoking Policy Review Committee if the committee deems granting the exemption to be reasonable for business or research reasons as submitted by the unit that requests the exemption.
According to Policy AD 32, “smoking” may include but is not limited to, “the burning of any type of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, or any other smoking equipment, whether filled with tobacco or any other type of material.”
The University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) presented a report to President Barron in the spring of 2016 in support of a smoke-free and tobacco-free University Park campus. This report cites that nine of the fourteen Big Ten universities have more restrictive smoking policies than Penn State and they provided a list of sixteen recommendations for consideration by the PSU administration. This report was included as an appendix to the Faculty Benefits/Student Life forensic report on the smoking policy presented to the University Faculty Senate in September, 2016. (http://senate.psu.edu/senators/agendas-records/september-6-2016-agenda/appendix-d/)
The Faculty Benefits Committee was given the charge in the summer of 2016 to work with the Student Life committee to explore the policy in question, present a forensic report, and make recommendations regarding possible changes to the policy. Additional inquiry by the committee revealed that thirteen PSU campuses have implemented more restrictive smoking and tobacco use policies than those dictated by the University, and two of the 13 campuses are smoke-free and tobacco-free. The Faculty Benefits Committee and Student Life Committees co-sponsored a forensic report to the full Senate on September 6, 2016, with the following questions to be discussed during the plenary session:
- Does the Faculty Senate support Penn State moving towards tobacco-free campuses? This includes not only the items listed in AD 32, but also vaping, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
- (What is the role of) or How should the Faculty Senate engage with student organizations and administration to overcome challenges resulting from implementing a tobacco-free policy?
- What does the Faculty Senate recommend as “next steps”?
The forensic session generated discussion along 3 main categories: (1) health-related risks associated with smoking and second-hand smoke; (2) implementation/enforcement of restrictive policies; and (3) personal rights infringements associated with more restrictive policies.
There is a strong sentiment among some senators, particularly those involved in health-care and medicine, that the health risks to smokers and non-smokers with PSU’s present smoking policy are significant and the University should implement a smoke-free tobacco-free policy that will protect students, faculty, staff, and visitors from exposure to tobacco products. Other faculty senators expressed the opinion that while they believed the risks associated with second-hand smoke indoors are significant, they believed the risks in outdoor areas are exaggerated.
Faculty expressed concern that a Smoke-Free Penn State policy would impact smokers from many parts of our broader Penn State Community including international students, staff, OPP, Housing and Food Services, employees of Penn State hotels and restaurants, outside contractors, as well as alumni and public visitors to our campus. Some of these groups likely have higher proportions of smokers than present in our faculty and it is unknown at the time of this writing how the smoke-free Penn State policy might affect union contract agreements. Faculty also noted that the large property area of the Penn State University Park Campus would make work-day travel off campus, to smoke, impractical. As such, there might be a need for designated smoking areas and potentially accommodations for public social events such as football tailgates. Faculty also wondered whether Penn State might offer smoking cessation programs to smokers, should Smoke-Free Penn State be adopted as policy.
Enforcement of a more restrictive smoke-free policy was a concern for some who spoke. With a campus the size of University Park, some inconvenienced smokers would likely take a smoking breaks on campus. The question was asked, “Whose job would it be to enforce the policy?” Some faculty said they would be uncomfortable asking others not to smoke or reminding them of a no-smoking policy.
The underlying idea of personal rights and freedoms was also identified as an issue associated with a more restrictive smoke-free policy. It was noted that there are many unhealthy habits among students, staff, and faculty at Penn State, but all should have right to choose a “healthy lifestyle,” or not. Some senators expressed the opinion that smoking is a personal choice and smoking outdoors does not pose an infringement on non-smokers rights, while a smoke-free policy imposes significant infringements on the rights of smokers.
The Faculty Benefits and Student Life Committees noted that other Big Ten institutions have adopted smoke-free and tobacco free policies. Both committees noted it would be very instructive to learn more about implementation issues experienced and strategies employed at both Ohio State University and the University of Michigan, as both of their “Tobacco Free” and “Smoke Free” Policies were included as supporting materials for our Forensic discussion.
The Senate Committee on Faculty Benefits considered the responses expressed during the forensic session, as well as responses received through informal email polling of committee members’ units. The Faculty Benefits Committee is concerned for the health and well-being of all Penn State employees, students, and visitors, and presented a list of principles for the administration to consider in developing and implementing policy regarding health-care and insurance. One of the guiding principles identified in the report in the Faculty Benefits Advisory/ Consultative Report, “Principles for the Design of Penn State Health Care Plans” approved by the University Faculty Senate on March 15, 2016 reads:
6) A principle of fostering and promoting a culture of health, which is included as a thematic priority in the university’s 2016-2020 strategic plan, should guide the design of plan features and programs that promote healthy choices and activities, shared efforts to establish tobacco-free campuses, and support the consistent and effective management of health risks.
With this principle in mind, considering community and personal health, campus cleanliness, and costs associated with smoking (health issues, cleaning issues), and weighing such considerations against personal freedom, the Faculty Benefits committee has reviewed the UPUA recommendation:
The UPUA recommends the University revise the University Park smoking policy to ban smoking from university owned property. Additionally, the UPUA recommends the university create a taskforce to oversee the altering of the policy and the necessary changes that will come with it. In order to create a smooth and effective transition it is imperative a committee of relative parties including representatives from the three student governments, UPUA, CCSG, and GPSA, to oversee the altering of the policy and the necessary changes that will come with it. This taskforce will create a plan for implementation and make official recommendations to the university to be adopted.
Many important questions were raised during the University Faculty Senate forensic session and it is noted that Faculty Senate did not have consultation with constituencies beyond University Park students and the Faculty Senate. Following the forensic, consultation did take place with the Staff Council, which is also discussing the potential impact of “smoke-free Penn State” on their constituency. Considering all of these factors, the Faculty Benefits and Student Life Committees present the following recommendations for full Senate consideration and endorsement.
- Faculty Senate endorses the spirit of the UPUA Smoke-Free Penn State Proposal, which has commendable merits in creating a smoke-free campus with longer-term goals of establishing a healthier Penn State community.
- Faculty Senate recommends our Penn State Administration create a Task Force to investigate the merits of a Smoke-Free Penn State Policy and explore implementation issues. Task Force membership should include representatives from Penn State stakeholder groups identified in this report and include Faculty Senate representatives from both University Park and Campus locations.
- Faculty Senate Representatives appointed to the Task Force are charged with reporting Task Force progress to the Committee on Faculty Benefits.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON FACULTY BENEFITS
- Susan Basso
- Renee Borromeo, Chair
- Victor Brunsden
- Amy Dietz
- Mark Horn
- Peter Jurs
- Cassandra Kitko
- James Miles
- Jamie Myers
- Willie Ofosu
- Erica Smithwick, Vice-Chair
- Greg Stoner
SENATE COMMITTEE ON STUDENT LIFE
- Sidharth Agrawal
- Gilbert Ambler
- Paul Barney
- Mark Brennan
- Terry Ford
- Kevin Harwell
- Katie Jordan
- Matthew Kaag
- Barrett Lee
- Martha Levine
- Shawn Lichvar
- Mary Miles, Co-Chair
- Alex Shockley, Co-Chair
- Damon Sims