Castleton to become tobacco-free campus

Changes are coming to Castleton University’s campus, and for some students and faculty, that may mean having to get rid of old habits.

As of July 1, 2019, all colleges within the Vermont State College system will no longer permit the usage of tobacco products on their campuses.

            “The Board of Trustees and the chancellor recognize that we have a responsibility to maintain a healthy and safe learning and working environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Jeb Spaulding, chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges said in a recent phone interview. “Tobacco basically causes close to half a million deaths in the United States each year.”

            At Castleton, the change will come even sooner.

According to Dennis Proulx, dean of students at the university, the campus will be smoke free as of Aug. 1, 2017.

            “This has been on the radar for a while,” Proulx said. “We’ve looked at this behind closed doors with lots of different people for years. There has been a push from the Vermont Department of Health, there’s been a push from SGA, there’s been a push from the (university’s) president, and there’s been a push across the country as colleges have gone tobacco free.”

            According to an article published Feb. 16, 2017 in the Basement Medicine, Johnson State College’s student newspaper, Dr. Harry Chen, commissioner of the Department of Health, gave a presentation encouraging the ban in April of 2016 to the Board of Trustees. This presentation is what led the board to implement the new policy, Spaulding said.

            Each school within the system is being given full control over how to implement this ban, Spaulding said. According to Proulx, Castleton will be hosting an open forum for students, faculty and community members outside of campus to discuss the best way to put this policy in place.

            “It will not be about whether we should go tobacco free or not,” Proulx said, “We’re getting our walking papers on implementations from the VSC policy and we’re implementing it.”

            According to Proulx, this policy will be enforced on a “peer to peer” basis, much like the current policy.

Keith Molinari, director of public safety, agreed.

            “My understanding, or at least what we’re leaning toward, is there’s not going to be a documentation-type situation that will lead to a disciplinary action,” Molinari said. “It will be addressed verbally at first. If we run into repeat offenders, we’ll consider documentation at that time.”

            Molinari, a smoker himself, said he plans to quit.

            “I don’t want to smoke,” he said. “I wish I didn’t take up the habit when I was 14 years old, but I did.”

            The university plans to offer cessation programs, one for students and one for faculty. The first programs will take place in late March and April, with future programs being planned for the fall semester. Dates for the program have not been announced.

            But not every smoker on campus intends to stop.

Castleton junior Dylan Blair said that even though the policy is changing, he will continue to smoke.

            “In an ideal world, I never would have begun smoking cigarettes,” Blair said. “A lot of stress goes on in college and so I’m not sure if I’m particularly ready to stop. It helps me keep a calm mind and relax.” 

            Even though Blair does not intend to stop smoking, he does understand the ban.

            “On campus, I feel like when I smoke cigarettes, I do my best to get out of the way of everyone else,” he said. “I try to be as considerate as possible of other people.”

            The open forum on how to implement the smoking ban will take place at 4 p.m. on March 30 in the 1787 room. Students, faculty and community members are encouraged to attend.


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