Riverland goes tobacco-free

Published 11:56 am Friday, July 1, 2011

Banners went up at Riverland College announcing the campus is going completely smokefree starting today. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

There’s a new rule at Riverland Community College: Smoking is not allowed.

A tobacco ban takes effect Friday on all Riverland property, the result of about three months worth of work by a Riverland committee after the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees approved a resolution encouraging MnSCU colleges to address tobacco use.

“The rationale for the policy is to facilitate a healthier, cleaner and safer campus environment,” wrote Riverland President Terry Leas in an e-mail to Riverland staff on May 7. Leas wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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The MnSCU Board of Trustees wanted colleges to educate employees and students about tobacco use dangers, provide information about quitting smoking and further restrict tobacco use.

A tobacco-free campus task force, led by public relations head James Douglass, sent surveys to employees and students, and held forums and met with the student senate. Douglass wasn’t immediately available for comment and a message on his voice mail indicated he was on vacation.

Riverland officials posted signs around the Austin, Albert Lea and Owatonna campuses earlier this week, which were paid for with funds from the Statewide Health Improvement Program, a three-year program under the state Department of Health.

Not everyone is pleased with the new smoking ban.

“I don’t like it,” said Jordan Wylde, Riverland junior. “It’s not good. I am not happy about that.”

Wylde was strongly against the ban when he first heard about it, as he is a smoker. He works in Riverland’s theatre department and stays at the Austin East campus for up to 12 hours a day this summer.

“I saw the (stupid) signs, the stickers that they slapped up on the door (next to the main entrance),” he said. “I sat up on the door and smoked like three cigarettes.”

“Why should I have to walk the better of 200 feet just so I can have a cigarette break?” he added.