Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation that will raise the smoking age in Washington to 21 years old.
The Gonzaga on campus smoking policy was last updated in summer 2018 to include e-cigarettes and vape pens. The current smoking policy exists in the office of environmental health and safety and with the new legislation the office and the group involved with making last summer’s smoking policy changes may need to make additional changes.
“Potentially, the biggest way that I think it (new smoking legislation) would impact us is to influence the behaviors of our incoming students,” said Jenna Parisi, director of office of health promotion (OHP). “We’ve seen a shift overtime, so the reason that tobacco and nicotine are not on my primary list of objectives is that we’ve seen a reasonably small proportion of students reporting smoking cigarettes as opposed to say drinking alcohol or even using cannabis, which is much lower but still higher than smoking cigarettes.”
As a university in Washington, and one that accepts federal funding, GU must comply with various policies such as the Washington Clean Air Act and any federal policies.
The new legislation will have more of a direct impact on underclassmen and incoming students.
“We have seen an increase, both anecdotally and a little bit of our data, to indicate that especially our incoming lower division students have increased their use of electronic cigarettes and vaping,” Parisi said. “I think we see that use going up at the high school level, so if you look at state-wide and national monitoring of that data we see that going up. So, with the change in legal age, I would expect that we may see less students who are coming from the state of Washington who have adopted that behavior as young, which could be a benefit.”
Campus Security and Public Safety (CSPS) are responsible for responding to complaints made about smoking violations on campus. If a student is found violating the smoking policy the related violations will be processed through the student conduct office.
“Student Development will lead most programing regarding under aged anti-smoking initiatives. We will partner with them wherever necessary,” Scott Snider, director of campus security, said in an email.
Safety programs manager Larry Hagel works in the office of environmental health and safety and has noted that there has already been some discussion surrounding potential changes that may need to be made.
Hagel noted that he doesn’t currently see any major changes that will need to be made to the policy as it is currently written.
“Since the last time we met we were planning to continue to revisit the smoking policy and vaping,” Hagel said. “We were planning on doing that anyway and in fact since the legislation passed it was kind of like a little bit of a spur to kind of maybe get us to meet and talk again for sure.”