Duke smoking ban follows national pattern
DURHAM, N.C.-Although Duke University’s decision to institute a smoking ban in residence halls has elicited mixed reaction, the policy follows the lead of many schools nationwide as administrators cite the need to protect students’ health.
“If the University bans smoking in academic and administrative buildings, banning it from a place where students live 24-7 is reasonable,” said Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, adding that the policy will help foster a healthy living environment for students.
Many other universities have similar policies.
The University of California at Berkeley originally banned smoking in all university-owned facilities except residence halls, but the school expanded the ban to dorms five years ago.
“I never heard any complaints or problems,” said Michelle Kniffin, assistant director of assignments and cashier for UC-Berkeley Housing and Dining Services. “There are less than 200 smokers out of 5,300 [students], so there’s really no issue about it.”
Purdue University instituted a smoking ban in all undergraduate housing last semester, and in fall 2002, the policy will extend to on-campus graduate and family housing.
“The overall reaction was one of great acceptance,” said Bill Schnackel, Purdue’s senior director for university residences.
“I don’t recall anyone being angry about it. Smokers are finding areas to smoke, and they are even requesting for non-smoking rooms because of lingering odors and so forth.” Schnackel said buildings were initially designated as either smoking or non-smoking; but separating out the smoking and non-smoking areas became too complex, he said, so Purdue decided to ban smoking entirely.
At Duke, the impetus for the ban was a Campus Council resolution in the fall, although University administrators have been discussing the issue for several years.
“It essentially boils down to be a health concern,” said freshman Anthony Vitarelli, a Campus Council representative. “We’ve gotten a good amount of feedback from people who are bothered with smoke coming from [students] across the hall.”
However, Duke Student Government voted to continue to allow smoking in dorms if both roommates agree.
“I have a little problem with James Duke holding tobacco on campus and me not being able to smoke in my office,” said DSG President C.J. Walsh, a senior. Walsh added that Campus Council did not have sufficient student input.
But Moneta said Campus Council has greater responsibility over specific residence hall policies than DSG.
And junior Andrew Nurkin, vice president of Campus Council, stressed that all representatives met with quad and house councils to gather feedback.
“We received input from [students] from the quads that have said they wanted [the policy] and said it was about time,” he said, adding that he expected mixed reaction overall.
Some students said they agreed with the policy.
“I’m not a smoker, so it doesn’t really affect me,” said sophomore Kate Weaver. “But I can appreciate it because the smell of smoke does bother me. I understand how students are upset if they can’t smoke in their own rooms, but I think the health concern overreaches that.”
Others said they felt the ban was unfair.
“I don’t think they have the right to infringe on things like that,” said junior Hosea Chang.
“When we’re in our room, as long as we’re not doing anything illegal, we should be allowed to do whatever we want.”
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