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.