Nursing students create smoke-free campus survey

The debate is beginning on campus, wheather smoking should be allowed. Five nursing students created a survey for students and faculty to take, sparking the conversation of who is right’ Smorkers or non-smokers

A group of five Washburn University nursing students are interested in making Washburn a smoke-free campus. For a class project the students decided to conduct the campus-wide survey to see how students, faculty and staff would react to a smoke-free campus.

Josh Schell, Erin Thomas, Erin Morris, Kate Wise and Donald Sortonis are the students behind the Washburn Smoke-Free Campus Interest Survey. The main concern regarding smoking on campus is evident; it is about having healthy students and faculty at Washburn.

“[One] benefit [of making Washburn smoke-free] would be not having to walk through someone’s smoke when on campus,” said Wise. “Usually this is unavoidable and over time, secondhand smoke can cause serious health problems in people who don’t smoke. Also, this could potentially get some students and staff to cut back or quit smoking.”

The Washburn Student Health Services on campus offers students pamphlets and brochures with valuable information on how to quit smoking, and the many health hazards associated with smoking. Any student may also talk with the nurse practitioner to discuss their options when they are trying to quit smoking. The nursing students conducting the interest survey hope that their project raises awareness and makes way for any future programs to help students and staff quit smoking.

“Another goal of ours is to raise awareness of the effects of secondhand smoke by posting information on campus with approval,” said Schell.

In December of 2009 the city of Topeka passed the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance No. 19315. According to the city of Topeka, the primary purposes of the ordinance are to improve and protect the public’s health by eliminating smoking in public places and protect the right of non-smokers to breathe smoke-free air.

“I don’t have anything against smoking, it’s a personal choice and I respect that,” said senior marketing major, Shea Kirsop. “The only thing that affects me is when I walk through the smoke, though rarely does it even bother me.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, nearly 50,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer and heart disease attributed to secondhand smoke exposure.

“Although smoking and secondhand smoke have been proven to have negative effects on the overall health of society I feel it’s our choice if we want to smoke or not,” said Chris Hill, freshman kinesiology major. “It’s one of our rights as an American, to be free. We also pay to attend school here, it should be our choice.”

In July of 2010 Kansas issued a state-wide ban on smoking that Washburn’s campus clearly falls under. Kansas was the 35th state in the nation to restrict smoking in public areas. The state-wide ban states that it is illegal to smoke in indoor places, including restaurants, job sites and bars. The part that principally pertains to Washburn is that it is illegal to smoke within 10 feet of a doorway or open window of an establishment where smoking is prohibited.

“I personally have tried to get the campus, specifically WU-Police, to enforce the policy of smokers to be at least 10 feet away from building entrances…with no avail. They said they were enforcing that policy already. But I didn’t see any changes,” said junior biology major, Anthony Davis. “If Washburn’s campus was smoke free, I believe that people would be happier and healthier.”

The group is planning to meet with WSGA to find out what future steps they need to take to make Washburn a smoke-free campus. The survey started Sept. 26 and will end Oct. 10. The group plans on sharing the results of the survey after it closes. Students can find a link to the survey on MyWashburn under personal announcements.