WILLISTON Visitors to Williston State College may only have four more months to light up a cigarette on the college grounds.
Come Jan. 1, 2013, the two-year college is set to join the other colleges and universities in the North Dakota State University System that have gone smoke free.
Kayla Retzer, director of marketing, said Monday that the change won't be official until after the faculty, staff, and student senates have passed the policy change and the executive cabinet has approved it. That is expected to occur during the first two weeks in September.
Minot State University has been a smoke-free campus for several years. The university posted no smoking signs around the MSU Dome warning people that the campus is tobacco free. Williston State College is considering going smoke-free as of January 1, 2013 and would also post such signs.
College president Ray Nadolny said in a press release that any concerns people have can be discussed during the meetings of those groups.
"If they have concerns, we hear them," he said in the press release. "Then we have a conversation, helping us decide what we can do to get everyone on the same page - whether that be more education, a plan for healthcare so people who are currently smokers get the help they need, etc. It allows us to make sure we are meeting the needs of people across the campus."
Nadolny said Williston State is one of only one or two colleges remaining in the university system that have not banned smoke and tobacco from the grounds. Nadolny said the student senate originally approached him about making the change.
If the policy change is approved, Retzer said the university will have a few months to make the transition. Appropriate signage declaring smoking off-limits would be posted. There would also be time to educate regular visitors to the college, such as people attending athletic events and people who come to the college for workforce training, about the move.
Deannette Piesik, CEO of the TrainND program, said in the press release that they have talked to a few of the clients with whom they work, and also with some of the businesses that send employees for training, and have found that most of the businesses are supportive of the campus going tobacco free.
"We've gotten no complaints at this time," Piesik said. "It won't go into effect until January 1, so it gives us time to transition and work with the clients."
She added that many of the worksites where their clients work are smoke free already, due to the fact that there are so many flammable chemicals on the worksites. "We're more worried about (opposition from) the clients who use chewing tobacco, as that is allowed on job sites, but will not be allowed on campus," Piesik said. "I guess they will just have to get used to getting into their vehicle and driving off campus during breaks to have a smoke or chew."
Human Resources manager Michelle Remus said in the press release that she has heard no negative response to the proposed policy change, even from employees who are smokers. Most are used to businesses in the communities being smoke free. They all expected Williston State to become smoke free because the other colleges and universities in the university system have eliminated tobacco products years ago, she said.