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Ivy Tech to go tobacco-free Aug. 4

By Nicole Brooks

June 30, 2009

no moking image Students and employees congregate in the designated smoking area on the east side of the Bloomington campus. Smoking is now not permitted in the buildings but Ivy Tech goes smoke-free soon and smoking will not be permitted in these areas on campus.
Monty Howell | Herald-Times

Ivy Tech’s campus will become tobacco and smoke-free Aug. 4.

The new policy announced today bans the use of tobacco products on all of Ivy Tech’s owned or leased property, including the main campus at 200 Daniels Way, the Indiana Center for the Life Sciences, the downtown Depot, and the college’s Liberty Drive location.

“It’s just time,” Chancellor John Whikehart said today.

To smoke or not to smoke is a decision left up to the administrators at each of Ivy Tech’s 23 campuses statewide, he said. In Bloomington, the topic has been discussed off and on for years, he said. Whikehart did his own survey, calling all Ivy Tech chancellors. Of the community college’s 14 regions, Bloomington was one of two that still allowed smoking on campus. Now Kokomo will be the only Ivy Tech campus to still allow tobacco use on campus property, he said. Even schools near Indiana tobacco fields have banned smoking, he noted.

Ivy Tech Bloomington has tried to confine smoking to certain areas. Campus workers installed two or three years ago a smoking shelter behind the main campus building, to keep smokers and their smoke away from doorways, Whikehart said.

That enclosure will be moved to the new life sciences building at Profile Parkway and Zenith Drive, to be used as a bus stop shelter.

Under the new policy, smokers can light up in their vehicles parked on campus, but must extinguish and discard their cigarettes in their vehicles.

Whikehart said college students will get in the mail an oversized postcard alerting them to the new policy. There will be notices up around campus, on the college’s Web site, and also information about the change in a letter sent to students before fall classes begin Aug. 24.

Violating the smoking ban will be treated as any violation of school policy, Whikehart said. Verbal and then written warnings will be issued to repeat offenders. He said he doesn’t believe a monetary fine will be necessary, but added tickets for littering on campus can come with a fine — although Ivy Tech has yet to fine anyone for littering.

Since news of the no-smoking policy went out to staff, Whikehart said, human resources has received only thankful e-mails. The policy intends to create a healthier campus, he said.

“I don’t think anyone in the year 2009 has missed the fact that smoking is a health issue, including smokers.”

But this decision was not entirely based on health. Ivy Tech’s enrollment is growing as its revenues are shaky.

“At this point we just don’t have the resources any longer” to clean up after smokers, Whikehart said. “It does have a financial impact.” Somebody has to clear away cigarette butts, and Whikehart said the college no longer wants to devote scarce resources to that task.

Ivy Tech is offering free tobacco cessation classes to its full-time employees, and Whikehart said he wouldn’t turn away a student who wanted free classes, as well.

“We’ve offered it before, to limited participation,” he said of smoking cessation classes for employees.