OGDEN -- A proposal to limit smoking on the Weber State University campus has gained the support of the Faculty Senate.
If approved unchanged at the highest levels, the proposal, which originated with the Student Senate, would ban smoking of tobacco products and even smokeless cigarettes within 25 feet of building entrances or air-intake vents and in central campus areas, including the main mall and the Bell Tower Plaza.
The inclusion of smokeless cigarettes mirrors the content of House Bill 245, passed into law in 2012, which bans the use of smokeless cigarettes in public indoor places.
The vote in the Faculty Senate was 23-8, with one abstention.
The Senate also passed a related proposal that originated with its own Environmental Issues Committee, calling for no-idle zones to cut back on polluting vehicle emissions. The non-idling proposal passed 32-2.
The proposal to limit smoking must next be approved by the Presidential Council, which has not yet added the issue to a meeting agenda, according to the office of the president.
Still, to Brady Harris, WSU Student Senate president, the endorsement by the Faculty Senate seems like a victory.
"This is a modification of what we proposed, and I am happy with where it went," Harris said Tuesday. "I think it's a good compromise. It addresses smoking where the major problem is. For me, this is really exciting, not just because it supports the smoking polity, but because it shows that the faculty and administration at Weber State listens to students."
The original proposal banned smoking anywhere on campus.
The initial discussion of the smoking issue began several years ago, when two students addressed the Student Senate, talking about how much they hated walking through tobacco smoke while traveling from class to class.
The Student Senate researched smoking bans on campuses across the country, and the programs' success rates. The Student Senate arranged for a campuswide opinion survey, open primarily to students, and brought in national speakers.
Last school year, the Faculty Senate voted to not support the campus smoking ban, but formed a committee to do further research and to come up with an alternate proposal.
Brian Rague, chairman of Weber State's Faculty Senate, praised the students' research.
"There was a lot of legwork done by students," Rague said. "Then the Environmental Issues Committee did more work on the policy, which essentially involves quite a few stakeholders, including students but also the professional and classified staff.
"This is not just a faculty decision on policy. This is simply a vote of recommendation that moves the policy forward."
Harris said the proposal does not include designated smoking areas, but that any area outside the heart of campus and more than 25 feet from a building entrance or air-intake vent would be available to smokers. There are many areas that fit those criteria, Harris said.
If Weber State's administration and Board of Trustees go on to approve the proposal, the ban would be enforced the same way many WSU policies are, Harris said. Smokers in violation of the policy could first be asked by campus police officers to stop. Penalties would potentially increase with repeated violations, Harris said.