UW-Stout goes smoke free: Will others follow suit? - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW-Stout goes smoke free: Will others follow suit?

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By Teresa Mackin - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

MADISON (WKOW) -- One four-year UW college goes smoke-free: now will it be lights out for others?

UW-Stout in Menomonie has gone completely smoke-free this year. That includes all parking lots and sidewalks. Students at Stout voted twice in favor of the change.

Turns out, it's the only four-year UW school with a smoking ban. 27 News took a look at the smoking situation at colleges in Madison.

At Madison College, Madison's technical college, tobacco-free signs dot campus for the first-time.

This school year, smokers are heading to public sidewalks only.

Last year, there was a designated smoking area

David Chastain, a Health and Wellness Educator at Madison College, says he's glad Madison College is tobacco-free. "There are a lot of other businesses in the city, and in the state that are now smoke-free. So it made sense to go tobacco-free... we're just being consistent with what other people have done."

The snuff-out has gotten mixed reviews from both students and faculty.

Miriah Weirauch says, "Most people who go to college are 18 or older.. they have the right to smoke if they want to."

Kyle Schmidt, Madison College Student, points out what he believes is a glitch to be worked out, pointing out the cigarette butts lining the sidewalk. Schmidt says, "I think it's doing more harm than good.. people are walking on these sidewalks, smoke is blowing in their faces."

But Madison College student Kevin Watt's been smoking for eight years. He says this new rule means it's time to quit.

Watt says, "I've got plans, it's a slow process.. just getting it out of my system."

Chastain adds that it's often more difficult for faculty than students, because students are able to head outside more easily between classes.

Over on UW-Madison's expansive campus, there's a smoke-free zone around the hospital areas. That ban was enacted in 2008. In all other areas on campus, smokers must be 25-feet from any building entrance. That rule was started in 1991, and reinforced in 2008.

So, this perhaps raises a question: would UW-Madison ever consider taking up the next "lights out" referendum?

Brett Kaplan, UW-Madison student, says as a non-smoker he'd like a ban.

Kaplan says, "It would be good... environmentally and health wise... but knowing how addictive it is, I doubt it'll actually happen."

Student Nora Walker says she believes a smoking ban would be unrealistic with the number of smokers on campus.

Gary Brown, UW-Madison Director of Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture, says some students have talked about it in the past.

Brown says, "I'm sure lots of people, including myself would like to see that. But when you have 60,000 people, it's the 10th largest city in Wisconsin, this big area with large groups of people... it's hard to police on a regular basis. It would be very difficult."

Brown says even now, the ban near UW-Hospitals is sometimes difficult to enforce, with the number of new visitors to the area.

Madison Edgewood allows smoking 25 feet from buildings.

There are more than 400 college campuses across the U.S. that are now smoke-free.

Madison College joins Gateway, Western, Waukesha, Nicolet, Moraine Park, and Southwest Technical Colleges as a tobacco-free zone.

According to the American Non-Smokers' Rights Foundation, other smoke-free colleges in Wisconsin include Alverno College, Carroll University, Chippewa Valley Technical College, Medical College of Wisconsin, and UW-Baraboo-Sauk County.

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MENOMONIE (WKOW) -- The University of Wisconsin-Stout will become the first four-year school in the UW System to go smoke free.

Effective Wednesday, the school is banning all tobacco products on all university property, including parking lots and sidewalks.

Chancellor Charles Sorensen says enforcement will be through peer pressure. He says special cards can be handed to violators that encourage them to comply with the policy.

Students have voted twice in referendums for the changes.

Some two-year campuses in the UW System and some state technical colleges have already banned smoking.

Now, the question is: will other four-year campuses follow in their footsteps? A UW-Stout Communications Representative says they've heard comments from UW-Oshkosh, Stevens Point, and LaCrosse.

Would UW-Madison ever head smoke-free? Teresa Mackin will have more at 5, 6 and 6:30!

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