UNK to go tobacco-free on campus

KEARNEY, Neb.-- For the first time ever the University of Nebraska-Kearney is going tobacco-free on campus. The policy was introduced on Monday and has received praise.

"I come from a background where my father smoked, so you went to places and you smelled like smoke. I never did like that, so I think overall it's a good thing," said Billy Rayburn, UNK staff member.

"I like the rule. My friend smokes and I don't like it," said Yudai Takashi, UNK student.

The process of going tobacco-free started three years ago, When a group of students request that university transition into a tobacco free campus.

Urns have already been removed from trash cans around campus and replaced with metal caps. Those Urns will now be in the parking lots outside of campus, where people will be allowed smoke.

"It's designed to be where if someone is coming from off-campus, visitors for example who come in, they'll have an opportunity to extinguish their cigarette or whatever it is in the parking lot before they get on campus," said Gilbert Hings, Dean of Student Affairs.

While this is a campus policy, there are no penalties associated with it.

"We're family here. We say we're difference makers. The way you're a difference maker is to help educate people on what the culture is here.The culture here is that it is tobacco free," said Hinga.

Rayburn said there will still be some that smoke and chew on campus, and if it does become a problem, the university should enforce penalties.

"I think it's a wait and see because if you have a major problem, then you'll probably have to do something a little more drastic. If it's a here or there generally, you can take care of that," said Rayburn.

UNK is in the process of getting tobacco-free signs and will have smaller ones out to greet students moving back. The university has also started a social media campaign to reach out to students about the new policy.