Smoking bans: Not just at WU

| News Editor

Washington University joined more than 500 colleges across the nation by implementing a smoking ban over the summer.

However, a wide variety of bans exist at other schools, ranging from all-campus tobacco bans to the prohibition of smoking inside campus buildings.

There are very few campus-wide tobacco bans. According to Amy Heard, co-chair of the Undergraduate Tobacco Ban Task Force Committee, most schools with campus-wide smoking bans are public schools in states where there are already smoking bans on public property.

All universities in Illinois, New Jersey and Wisconsin have policies that prohibit smoking in all residence halls, dormitories and main campuses to protect students and staff from secondhand smoke. These bans are prompted by state laws, not school regulations.

The majority of smoking bans, however, occur on a much smaller scale.

Colleges across the country have had difficulties in enforcing the bans, and still, many schools continue to allow students to smoke on campus. For example, California’s Pierce College will not implement its smoking ban because of its budget.

Washington University in St. Louis
The University implemented a campus-wide tobacco ban on July 1, 2010. Prior to this policy, smoking was only prohibited inside buildings. The University is providing services to help students and staff quit smoking if they would like. Because of the ban, many students and staff have begun smoking along the borders of campus, and many students feel that the ban is not enforced.

Shortly after the April 2009 decision to enact the ban was announced, the Undergraduate Tobacco Task Force Committee was formed to decide how to implement the ban.
While the committee was aware that Washington University was one of the few schools with such a ban, they were not bothered by this fact.
“I think that it is a great public health measure,” Heard said.

The task force committee also presented a survey to students. It showed that more students were against the ban than the number of students who identified as smokers.
According to Heard, these students on campus who objected to the smoking ban were not against the campus-wide tobacco ban because many other schools do not have such a ban, but for their own personal reasons.

“I don’t think that the prevalence of the tobacco ban [on other campuses] really affected what [students who were against the ban] thought about it,” Heard said. “I never got the impression that it had anything to do with what other schools were doing.”

Heard is pleased with the results of the ban but acknowledges that there are still smokers.

“I think it’s kind of an eyesore to see the people lined up on Forsyth smoking,” she said.

University of Missouri-Columbia
In 2009, the University of Missouri banned smoking inside any university building or within 20 feet of its entrances. The university hopes to implement a policy that restricts smoking to designated outdoor smoking areas by July 2011 and prohibits smoking campus wide by 2014. The university is providing programs for students and staff to help them quit smoking.

University of Missouri-St. Louis
The University of Missouri-St. Louis has the same ban as the University of Missouri. However, starting in July 2011, the UMSL smoking ban will become more complete with a campus-wide ban. If students or staff are caught smoking, they will be referred to Student Affairs or Human Resources, respectively.

Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University has a policy that prohibits smoking within 20 feet of building entrances. In 2009, the school started to strengthen its policy. The university decided to ban smoking on campus except for certain designated smoking areas.

Columbia University
Columbia’s proposed smoking ban was not heavily supported—fewer than half of polled students supported the campus-wide ban. In the spring of 2010, it was voted that Columbia should not have any tobacco or smoking ban. Other options are still being discussed, including a smoking ban within 20 feet of buildings.

New York University
New York University’s current policy, which started this fall, does not allow anyone to smoke within 15 feet of any building entrances, exits or air vents. The university passed this ban in the beginning of 2010 after 84 percent of polled students said they favored the implementation. But some students and residents are upset and feel that the university does not have the right to decide whether people smoke on public sidewalks. Employees of the medical center can be fired for smoking repeatedly in prohibited areas.

Rice University
In August, Rice enacted a policy that stopped smokers from smoking inside any university-owned or leased building or in any open-air athletic or recreational area. People are still allowed to smoke when they are at least 25 feet away from any building entrance or exit or in a designated outdoor smoking area. The university posted no-smoking signs on campus so students and faculty are aware of the new rules. If students are not following the ban, they are referred to the college master or judicial committee. If a staff members are caught smoking, their supervisors will be called on to resolve the issue informally.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Students at UNC-Chapel Hill are prohibited from smoking inside university buildings and, since January 2008, in outside areas within 100 feet of a building. Violators have to pay a fine of $25 and court costs of $121. To make it easier for smokers, the university is considering providing shelters outdoors so that students can smoke even when it is raining. The university also provides programs to help students quit smoking.

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