Student group seeks support for proposal to make West Campus tobacco-free

The Association of Nursing Students is requesting comments and concerns from members of the WCU community about a proposal to make Western Carolina University’s West Campus, home of the new Health and Human Sciences building, tobacco-free. The request comes after the association’s petition supporting a tobacco-free West Campus garnered 381 signatures from the campus community last spring.

“Nurses advocate for health promotion, and the West Campus is an interdisciplinary campus that houses health professions,” said Amy Putnam, assistant professor of nursing and the faculty representative for the Association of Nursing Students. “It is important that the West Campus of WCU be tobacco-free for the health of the students, faculty, staff and community members that use it and live around it. WCU’s West Campus is a role model for the region.”

WCU’s general smoking policy, which took effect in July 2008, prohibits smoking within 50 feet of campus buildings. The policy was enacted after the state legislature passed laws in 2007 recognizing the health risks of secondhand smoke, prohibiting smoking in state buildings and enabling public universities to identify smoke-free zones of up to 100 feet around buildings.

The nursing students’ petition and proposal was shared with the Provost’s Office and Executive Council, and university leaders asked that the proposal be vetted through Staff and Faculty Senates and the Student Government Association.

If the proposal were to receive final approval from WCU Executive Council, then a committee of staff, students and faculty would be formed to develop specific guidelines and procedures related to how to enforce the policy, according to a letter about the proposal from Putnam, Judy Neubrander, director of the School of Nursing, and Marie Huff, interim dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences.

“It has been suggested that while the tobacco-free policy should be implemented in all university facilities, buildings and grounds, there should be two exceptions: smoking inside personal vehicles and along public streets that are not university-owned,” the letter states.

Comments and concerns can be sent to Putnam at