Smoking ban on campus ineffective

Vel Lewis

Returning back to campus brought new excitements, a new year, new classes and a new smoking ban on campus. Effective Jan. 1, the ban states that smoking is prohibited in all locations and at all times. But while there seem to be fewer students smoking on campus, I have seen more than a few smokers not adhering to the policy. It is still prevalent outside of buildings and in the fingers of some as they walk to class.

We all know smoking can cause health-related issues in smokers and those around them, so the ban is a good idea. But if the University really cared about the health of the community, it would have instituted some form of punishment for students putting the health of 
themselves and others in danger.

Sure, there will always be people who break the rules and there is certainly no way to catch them all, but at what lengths will the University strive to uphold this ban? Currently there are no policies in place to enforce the ban, so why is such a ban even in place? It was reported the lack of enforceable consequences allows for students to hold one another accountable in enforcing the ban. I do not think it should be assumed students will or should hold each other accountable for a policy such as this. The University needs to be the one to do that. Students should not have to walk up to a stranger smoking on campus and ask them to put their cigarette out. First of all, that is rude, especially if you have no authority. Second, the likelihood of the person actually obeying you is close to none.

Campus security officers could issue Student Non-Academic Misconduct citations to smokers not complying with the ban, but I question why this was not an option when the smoking ban was created. It does seem petty and childish for campus security officers to force students to put away their cigarettes, but if SNAMs can be given for other offenses related to breaking University policies, then they could be used for this.

Taking this issue from the other side, maybe the lack of punishment is a way for the University to dodge flaring tempers. When the ban was first announced, there was a lot of applause, but just as much outrage. Without wanting to push any more buttons, I can see why some form of enforcement may not have been initially agreed upon. Giving out punishments so soon after the ban could be seen as unfair and even controlling.

That said, I just do not see the purpose of this type of ban – a ban put in place with seemingly no consequences. If the intention of this ban was to discourage smoking, then it has failed. If the intention was to prove the University’s seriousness on getting students to quit smoking, then it has failed. Is the ban a great idea and does it have the potential to make positive change? Yes. I suggest that the University go back and reevaluate the ban they have passed. It needs to be decided how the ban will be enforced to ensure the goal a healthy University 
community is met.

Vel Lewis is a junior majoring in political science and public relations. Her column runs biweekly.