Tobacco still in use on campus despite ban, survey finds
As summer turns to fall, Washington University is continuing to adjust to its smoke-free environment.
The tobacco ban, in effect since July 1, mandates that students, faculty and staff may not use tobacco products on campus. While many smokers have adjusted to the ban by smoking on Forsyth Boulevard, Big Bend Boulevard and other areas off campus, the results of a recent Student Life survey show that some have been violating the ban.
Fourteen percent of the survey’s 276 respondents reported having seen people smoking outside classroom buildings after the ban’s implementation, compared with 45 percent before the ban. Fourteen percent of respondents also reported having seen smokers outside of dormitory buildings after the ban, compared with 57 percent before the ban.
According to Jill Carnaghi, assistant vice chancellor for students and director of campus life, implementation of the ban should be a campus-wide effort, especially as the University begins to adjust to the policy. Last fall, Carnaghi co-chaired an undergraduate task force for a smoke-free campus with senior Amy Heard.
“Some smokers are going to choose not to contribute to making it a more healthy community,” Carnaghi said. “In order for this to go forward, it is everybody’s responsibility to say that they want a more healthy community and tell smokers not to smoke on campus,” Carnaghi said.
Self-implementation was an issue that had come up during the task force meetings, according to Heard. However, she has not personally seen a need to enforce the ban yet.
“I have not seen a lot of people smoking, so students have not felt the need to put a stop to it,” Heard said. “I do not think it is my place to walk up to a student and tell them to stop smoking, [and] I think a lot of students would not feel that it is their place to do so either.”
Although many non-smokers enjoy being able to walk through a smoke-free campus, some smokers are unhappy about the adjustments they had to make.
“I feel pushed aside by the Wash. U. community,” junior Mustafain Munir said. “It makes me feel guilty for what I do.”
Munir says he has not started smoking less because of the ban. While he had previously smoked between classes and on campus, he now usually smokes on Forsyth during his free time.
“I feel that it is almost more dangerous because freshmen coming from the [South] 40 have to pass us when they are going to class, and we are congregating to smoke,” Munir said.
Senior Aaron Kay understands the University’s intentions to reduce smoking and raise awareness of health concerns, but he opposes the ban.
“The University can post photos of tarred-up lungs on campus and remind students about the health risks, but I think they’re overstepping their bounds by banning it completely,” Kay said.
Both Munir and Kay support a designated on-campus area for smokers, which they think would keep smokers from being inconvenienced by the ban. However, Heard does not expect an on-campus smoking zone to be implemented soon.
“When Chancellor [Mark] Wrighton passed the decision to pass the ban, it was in his mind that it would be a complete and total ban, so it wasn’t something that we got to discuss,” Heard said. “When it was brought up, we were told as a task force that it was not going to happen.”
Despite his opposition to the ban, Kay said that he understands the purpose of a smoke-free campus as the policy’s implementations continue to unfold.
“The idea that I could walk around without having to worry about secondhand smoke would be nice to prospective students and parents,” Kay said.