Administrators at Keene State College are pondering the idea of becoming a tobacco-free school

The leader of this movement is Tiffany Matthews, the coordinator of Wellness Education at the Center for Health and Wellness.

Matthews and the tobacco-free campus task force, which formed in the fall of 2012, have been pursuing this goal for three years.

Last Friday, April 10, Matthews and other supporters of the movement held an open forum in the Madison Street Lounge.

The idea was to get campus talking about the anti-tobacco movement on campus and gather opinions from students as well as faculty.

To Matthews’ disappointment, there weren’t any admitted smokers in the room to express their viewpoints on the proposed changes.

“Seventy-five percent prefer not to deal with the residual effects of tobacco products,” Matthews said, reflecting on surveys the school did in 2012 asking students, faculty and staff about tobacco.

Current KSC rules prohibit smoking within 25 feet of a building on campus.

Many people don’t know what 25 feet looks like off the top of their heads, Matthews argued, and many buildings are so close together there is no way to smoke “legally” between them.

This leads to people violating current rules and putting non-smokers at risk from residual effects.

Even though these results are three years old, Matthews is confident those numbers also mirror how current students feel.

Last Tuesday, March 7, Matthews and the anti-tobacco movement received a re-endorsement from Student Assembly to continue their work.

Kate McNally was also present at the event.

McNally is the program coordinator for Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco-Free Communities at Cheshire Medical Center

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

and has been working closely with the movement to make KSC tobacco free. McNally’s goal has been to “break down barriers” preventing people from getting the help they need. “It’s not a constitutional right to smoke. It is a constitutional right for me to have clean air,” McNally said. McNally said that there is a 17 percent youth rate in tobacco use in the Monadnock region and she wants to see that number dip to 10 percent by 2020.

“We can expect that about thirty-five percent, somewhere in that vicinity, of college age people in the Monadnock region use tobacco, compared to a much smaller percentage of people over the age of thirty-five.” McNally said.

William Stroup, an English professor at KSC, supported the idea of making KSC a tobacco-free campus. “As a person whose office is above an area where people smoke a lot, yeah, there have been a number of times where its been impossible to avoid the smoke,” Stroup said. Stroup said he thinks it is crucial for KSC to continue the movement to become tobacco free, as it aligns with the school’s commitment to the health and safety of its students.

Matthews said that while there are still other things the group must look into, the biggest obstacle of the anti-tobacco movement is getting the cabinet and president’s official approval for the change. “Our goal is to go all the way,” Matthews said.

For more on smoking on campus, see our Student Life section on A8.

Skyler Frazer can be contacted at

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