LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The University of Wisconsin - La Crosse is considering a plan to become a tobacco-free campus.
The push comes from a group of community health education students who say the initiative will promote healthier lifestyles for the student body.
"It's important to be advocating for something that's so healthy," said tobacco-free advocate Mackensie Pampuch. "And here in La Crosse, we strive to be really healthy."
Pampuch is working with her peers to push this plan forward.
The American Lung Association reports 29 campuses in Wisconsin are already tobacco free. UW-L is looking to be the thirtieth.
"We find that people who actually chew tobacco sometimes spit on the carpets in the dorm rooms and what-not," Pampuch said. That's actually a lot of money to replace those, so we're just trying to get it so it's all tobacco-free. We're trying to make it a healthier campus all around."
Currently the campus requires smokers to stand at least 25 feet away from school buildings.
But Chancellor Joe Gow said tobacco-free may be a harder habit to break.
"I meet frequently with people from the neighborhood and the community. It's understandable, they'd say if you are going to ban smoking on your campus it's highly likely your people will cross the street and walk around our neighborhoods smoking," Gow said. "Some people don't want that."
Those people who use tobacco on campus are a little disenchanted with the proposal.
And enforcement may not be so simple without a specific plan in place.
"We might just use blind faith and trust that people follow the policy and keep it regulated," Pampuch said.
In the past few years, a plan to ban smoking on campus has already failed a student vote.
The students organizing the tobacco-free campus initiative will be hosting forums in the coming weeks as a way to explain their initiative and field questions.
The first of these open forums will be Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at 1309 Centennial Hall.
The plan is to have students vote on the tobacco-free initiative this April.
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