The WVU Board of Governors voted in favor of tightening the tobacco-free campus policy, which now includes a ban on e-cigarettes and vapes, on Friday.
The Tobacco Free Policy will also now officially enforce a six-year-old rule WVU passed in 2013.
“Under the new rule we sort of adopted into a new steering committee who will actively govern this rule going forward, so that enforcement doesn’t slip through the cracks,” said Gary Furbee, deputy general counsel for WVU.
The new rules will strengthen the University’s hand in enforcing the ban, requiring that a process be developed for identifying and reporting violations, as well as locations where it is repeatedly violated, according to WVUToday.
“This rule also had an extended comment period and during that time we received 33 comments from students, faculty, staff and members of the public,” said Furbee. “It’s safe to say that [with] this rule, comments were very in opposition of each other.”
Students who violate the ban are subject to Student Conduct proceedings; faculty and staff are subject to appropriate disciplinary proceedings; visitors refusing to comply will be asked to leave campus which if ignored may result in additional sanctions; and employees of vendors or contractors will be reported to their employer for appropriate remedial action, according to WVUToday.
The rule permits the use of tobacco products and smoking for academic or research purposes, or for large gatherings on campus, provided smoking is only allowed in designated outdoor areas.
Furbee said that the new rules will not go into effect until a later date because the task force is looking to approve certain enforcement, cessation and marketing policy groups.
“Step one was to get the rule out there so that the marketing group and the enforcement group can then put in place the mechanisms to do just those things; market it, rebrand it across campus, implement the enforcement and have a process in place to do that and at the same time bring together, across campus community, cessation resources for individuals who want to do that to essentially stop the use of tobacco,” said Furbee.
The old policy was not effective because there was no enforcement, and the language used didn’t specifically prohibit e-cigarettes and vapes, according to Rocco Fucillo, a state and local relations specialist at WVU.