sign installation

Physical plant employee Tom Miller installs tobacco free signage on campus.

Joining the national trend for smoke free campuses, West Liberty University will transform to a tobacco free campus on Jan. 1, 2013.

Signs were placed around and on campus to inform students, employees and visitors of this new policy during the last few weeks of the fall semester.

“We wanted to get the signs in place now, to give our students and employees another heads-up to what’s coming with the New Year. This policy was first announced months ago however, and we’ve been offering smoking cessation class information and help throughout the fall semester,” said James Stultz, vice president of human resources.

So far, much of the reaction has been positive.

“Many of our employees and students are health conscious and want to work and study in a healthy environment, so this move to a smoke and tobacco free campus is a seen as a positive enhancement to our learning and work environment,” he said.

Stultz mentioned that every new faculty and staff member hired for the current school year were informed of the tobacco free initiative and given a copy of the tobacco policy and enforcement plan at the time of their hire.

Scott Cook, dean of students, also has added the new policy and its implementation to his student orientation procedures, so that incoming students and their families are aware of the tobacco free campus in 2013.

“The student government voted on the new policy last spring and support WLU’s Board of Governors decision, after lengthy discussion with students. The main thing we thought of was the issue of health, and then the cleanliness of campus that will improve due to the absence of discarded cigarette butts,” Student Government Officers Eric Croasmun and Lee-Anne Yeater agree.

To help students and staff struggling to kick the habit, tobacco cessation programs have been offered through Campus Health Services and classes will continue to be offered in 2013.

Other smoker aids such as the Tobacco Quitline and its marketing materials are available in the health service office, which is staffed by Christy Bennington, registered nurse and advisor to the West Liberty University Tobacco Coalition. This student-leg organization offers fun and informative activities to promote tobacco cessation.

“The coalition here on campus provided many educational and encouraging events and promotions to help smokers adjust to the new tobacco free policy. We want to help smokers and recognize that it is difficult to quit smoking or limit your smoking to off campus occasions but it is important for the health of everyone,” Bennington said.

WLU’s tobacco policy is posted on its website and is available in the Human Resources Department. The campus Barnes and Noble bookstore also carries nicotine gum and patches.

The tobacco-free policy will prohibit the use of tobacco products on all grounds and parking areas, including traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, chew, pipes, cigars, hookah or waterpipe smoking, snus, snuff, etc., and applies to all areas of the campus, both indoors and out.

“We are looking forward to the benefits of the implementation of this policy, including the absence of discarded cigarette butts littering campus. We are confident that our employees and students will cooperate and eventually appreciate the result of a tobacco-free environment. Though it may be hard for smokers to quit or refrain, it will make West Liberty University a healthier and more environmentally friendly place to work, study and visit,” Stultz said.

West Liberty University employs approximately 433 full and part-time workers and enrolls 2,804 students as the fall semester draws to a close. Established as West Liberty Academy in 1837, the public university was created to respond to the need for higher educational opportunities west of the Appalachians. Led by President Robin C. Capehart, WLU is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

For more information, please visit www.westliberty.edu or call 1.866.WESTLIB.