Tobacco ban enforcement should not be a student responsibility

Despite the campus-wide tobacco ban, people are still smoking cigarettes around Washington University. Students and faculty alike have been slipping through the cracks, smoking on campus with few or no repercussions. Enforcement of the tobacco ban by the University has been severely lacking, and the penalties for smoking on campus are woefully unclear. The school has relegated enforcement of the tobacco ban to the community, hoping that students and faculty will self-enforce it without major intervention by the University.

This might have been a smart strategy—if the ban had the backing of the Wash. U. community in the first place. But the policy was put in place unilaterally by the administration with almost no student input. Community enforcement makes little sense when the community itself had not reached a consensus on a ban. Thus, we feel that the obligation rests on the University to effectively enforce its own ban.

Those who do not blatantly smoke cigarettes on campus have taken to smoking en masse on Forsyth Boulevard. This situation is arguably less favorable than before: Smokers have now condensed into an area that invariably gets a large amount of pedestrian traffic from students on the South 40. And every single campus tour makes the turn from the Forsyth sidewalk toward the Danforth University Center, leading potential students and families right through a veritable army of smokers. Clearly, this isn’t good marketing—especially when “Tobacco Free” stickers now adorn every door on campus. Without tighter control and clearer stipulations on where and when people can consume tobacco products, the campus ban could do more image-wise harm than help.

Ultimately, Wash. U. can’t rely on students and community members to enforce the tobacco ban. Policies and penalties regarding smoking on campus need to be outlined explicitly—and they need to be consistently enforced by Wash. U. Otherwise, as more and more smokers pass under the radar, the ban will be ineffective at best, and counterproductive at worst.

We urge the Wash. U. administration to seriously consider the logistics of the tobacco plan, and make adjustments to its own policies accordingly. Until then, we should not be forced to police ourselves over a policy implemented without our consent.

  • Ava

    Wash U does own this property but doesn’t own the air. This ban seems fascist and unfair. If smokes over the age of 18 is legal outdoors how can the university legally penalize students, faculty, and their underpaid overworked staff for needing a released?

  • CoachMcQuirk

    Every one of these ‘tobacco-free campus’ rules is just pathetic, since it only breeds disrespect for campus policies among college students and faculty. Not to mention, it’s driven by anti-smoking hatred of the smell of smoke, and has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with health.

    What would be so wrong with revising this policy, and just allow smoking once again in outdoor areas of campus, provided no smoking continues to be strictly enforced near building entrances? Common courtesy should guide when smokers smoke or not smoke in regular outdoor areas of campus, not a policy that just encourages disrespect for all campus policies.

  • Caleb Posner

    “Without tighter control and clearer stipulations on where and when people can consume tobacco products, the campus ban could do more image-wise harm than help.”

    It is quite clearly defined where people can consume tobacco: those places not subject to the control of Washington University. And the times it may be consumed are whenever individuals so inclined are at such places. So either you are proposing that university borrow a page from Bob Jones and try to extend its controls to students even when off campus, or you’re calling for a modification of the existing ban to include certain on-campus exemptions. Which is it?