The current tobacco policy on campus may change in the next two years to either restricted areas or a tobacco free campus, so Keene State College can become the cleanest community in the nation according to Christine Burke, director of health and wellness.
Currently the tobacco policy states that people cannot use tobacco (including smokeless tobacco) inside KSC buildings, in KSC vehicles, around entrances and outside stairways to buildings, courtyards or other areas where air circulation may be impeded by architectural, landscaping or other barriers, in outdoor entry or service lines, in outdoor seating areas, or in areas reserved for events.
In the next two years the plan for either designated tobacco areas on campus or a tobacco free campus will be set, according to Christine Burke, director of health and wellness.
Burke said that the policy cannot change overnight but must be a transitional thing, hence the reason for the two year process.
“I think those are both good options,” freshman Lizy Fecto, a nonsmoker, said, “I think it would be better to have certain areas.”
According to Burke, the current policy basically says that there is no tobacco usage inside of buildings, must be 20 feet away from any building and not through high traffic areas.
“I agree that it [tobacco usage] should be taken at least 20 feet from a building,” freshman Shawn Danehy, a nonsmoker said, adding,“I have asthma so I would be okay with the other two options as well.”
A survey went out on MyKSC to students and faculty about tobacco usage on campus and, according to Student Assembly President Colin Daly, the results turned up that out of 1,600 KSC members, 85 percent are nonsmokers.
Daly and Burke said the tobacco policy at the moment is ineffective and not enforced by the community.
Daly is working as a spearhead in an attempt to change the policy and to see if it needs to be changed.
“I think it is time that something changes on campus and [according to] the survey that went out, it is apparent that students are willing to change the current smoking policy because most know that it is not effective,” Daly said.
Daly said he knows of some students who have issues with tobacco use on campus, especially when it comes to second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke kills 600,000 people a year worldwide, including 165,000 children, according to World Health Organization study performed in December of 2010.
The survey was created by the Health and Wellness department and was given to staff and faculty members a week prior to the students. The survey was kept separate so the data could show what students and staff/faculty members thought Burke said.
According to Burke, the survey was designed to see what people thought about the impact of the use of tobacco used on campus, the rights of smokers versus nonsmokers and would it be a good idea to be a tobacco-free campus.
“What we always have to balance out is the rights of one group of people over another,” Burke said, “I think when the right of a person to breath clean air supersedes the needs the right of another to smoke.”
Daly said Student Assembly added an additional question at the end of the survey: “Which areas, if any, is smoking an issue most prevalent?” The survey came back saying that outside of residence halls was the most prevalent. The second most prevalent areas were outside of academic buildings.
“A majority of the students feel that they should have the right to smoke but many students feel that they don’t want to get some of the second-hand smoke or they don’t want to be influenced by those who choose to smoke and with some of the negative effects that come along with it,” Daly said.
Since Daly is a senior, he is leaving the business of figuring out what to do next to Burke and Kelly Walsh, next year’s vice president of student assembly.
Daly said they work to get some focus groups of student to see what needs to be changed and some research at the same time. They will look at other institutions to see what they are doing.
Daly also said that the school is not ready to go to a tobacco-free campus but that something has to be done. The designated smoking areas would resemble ones in the airport, according to Daly; something that keeps the smoke in and sends fresh air out.
Some members of the Student Assembly thought that they would be an “eye sore” to have “gazebo-like” buildings on campus. Daly said that the design of the building is up to the grounds department.
According to Burke, it is the goal of the campus to become the healthiest community in the nation by 2020 and moving towards either a tobacco-free campus or designated tobacco areas will help with that goal.
“I think a tobacco-free campus is drastic considering the high amount of smokers in Keene but designated areas wouldn’t be the worst, it would just be less convenient,” freshman Danielle Roberts, a smoker, said.
Kaitlyn Coogan can be contacted at