tobacco free
The University of Montana Western campus in Dillon will go tobacco free on Aug. 1, following a trend that is sweeping across the country.

Chancellor Dick Storey recently approved a measure that will bar cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco and any other tobacco products throughout the campus. He said it is following rules put in place at other Montana colleges.

"We're the last of the UM campuses to do this," he said.

The change came after more than two years of study by two campus groups. The chancellor's committee formed last fall made the recommendation after reviewing numerous studies that documented the health risks of tobacco, said Lynn Weltzien, a committee member and director of campus counseling.

She said the primary goal of the policy is to protect the health of everyone on the Western campus.

"We want people to be able to come to this as a workplace or taking classes without feeling they are put at risk," she said. "The data shows that whether you're indoors, outdoors, breathing the smoke directly or it's third hand later on ... this is what's making people sick."

The policy bars any use of tobacco on campus. However, Storey said the sidewalk on Atlantic Street along the west side of campus is off campus and not part of the ban.

Western's policy is also less restrictive than a ban recently imposed at Montana Tech in that it doesn't bar people from smoking inside their vehicles on campus.

"It just didn't seem right to tell people what to do in their private vehicle," Storey said.

People on campus can have tobacco on their possession as long as it's not used. The measure takes effect Aug. 1.

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