Smoking Ban Update

by Nadia Smith
Staff

Two proposals for a new tobacco policy at Transylvania, including recommendations for a tobacco-free campus, were presented last week at a campus-wide forum.

The first proposal was presented by Ashley Hinton-Moncer, Transy tobacco advisory committee chair and director of fitness and wellness, and would ban all forms of tobacco use anywhere on campus. The second proposal would move toward a tobacco-free campus in three stages, likely over three years, starting with a ban on smoke-producing tobacco. By stage three the ban would extend to all tobacco products.

Hinton-Moncer noted later that these proposals were meant to start the discussion and that as an advisory committee what they suggest may not necessarily be enacted.

According to the research done by the committee, the trend around the country, statewide, and in businesses, restaurants, colleges and universities is moving toward tobacco-free campuses. Several students at the forum expressed a desire to keep up with other Kentucky schools, such as the University of Kentucky, and not damage the campus image by allowing smoking.

“When someone decides to light up in a public place, (he or she is) putting the health of someone else in danger and that’s not (his or her) right,” said first-year and member of the Student Government Association, Charli Fant.

Supporters of the tobacco-free proposals suggested that current policies are not sufficient because they are not enforced or publicized. Many complained of having to walk through clouds of smoke as they leave campus buildings. Sophomore Josh Edge said he can smell smoke as soon as he walks outside his room.

However, objections to the smoking ban were also raised at the meeting. Some students against the proposal to move toward a smoke-free campus argued that this kind of action would infringe on smokers’ rights and is ultimately an effort to force smokers to quit.

Junior Ingrid Elise Williams, a smoker who said she came to forum to support the smoking ban, was unsure of her continued support by the end of the meeting.

“Obviously this isn’t about cleaning up campus or protecting nonsmokers’ health, it’s about forcing people to stop smoking,” Williams said. “I’m not going to stop smoking just because there’s a smoking ban.”

One restriction in the proposal much discussed that evening was the prohibition of smoking anywhere on campus property, even in personal vehicles parked on campus, except in an isolated designated smoking area. The suggested site is by the cooling tower between the International House and the entrance to the student publications office. Hinton-Moncer said that it was difficult for the committee to choose a site that was 20 feet from all entrances and that Back Circle was not recommended because it’s used by smokers and nonsmokers alike. She also said if the proposed site were chosen it would have seating installed.

Students who criticized the smoking ban at the meeting suggested smokers would not have enough time to get off campus and go smoke between classes and that staff members, not represented at this discussion, might have difficulty finding time to smoke during their breaks. Another major concern was that prohibiting smoking on campus would push people out into the neighborhood causing potential safety issues, especially late at night.

Junior resident assistant Mike McNary felt that the smoking ban was too invasive.

“I don’t feel it’s right to tell people that they have to leave campus to go smoke. It’s not such a problem right now. If the twenty-foot rule was enforced that would be enough,” McNary said.

Many students present at the forum were unaware of the smoking policy and even those who had heard of it were unsure of how far away twenty feet from the entrances would be. Suggestions included putting markers twenty feet from building entrances and moving ashtrays twenty feet away as well.

Dean of Students Mike Vetter said that up until now no one had been asked to enforce the smoking rules but that the community had been expected to do so itself. However, recently efforts have been made by residence life to enforce this policy.

Hinton-Moncer also presented the results of a campus-wide survey that found that while the majority of students were mostly satisfied, they felt that some changes might be beneficial.

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