Years ago smokers could smoke almost anywhere with the exception of hospitals, confined areas and locations that stored flammables. Over time smokers began to be segregated into designated smoking areas, followed by bans of smoking inside public places, then designated areas out doors. Today many public and private locations have banned smoking on their grounds altogether, and many other places are considering or trying to enforce a no smoking policy as well. Ironically many smokers have been forced to move from their homes as no smoking policies prohibit smoking inside and outside their own residences. Americans from all over the country have expressed their opinions regarding smoking in pubic areas. Opinions vary from banning smoking all together in public areas, to enforcing smoking only in designated areas, and just leaving smokers alone as long as they are outside. To combat smoking outdoors anti smoking advocates have generated a large number of infomercials portraying second hand smoke rising up several stories and into windows of apartments, flowing through the home into an infants face.
Banning smoking on college campuses such as ARC would diminish morale, especially to students who smoke. Judging from student comments many of us have already heard around campus, the complete outdoor smoking ban alienates many, and breeds resentment toward an administration seen as having gone too far. Faculty in particular may find it frustrating to work so hard for student retention and morale only to see their efforts hampered in this regard. Research by Dr. Kari Jo Harris, Associate Professor from the University of Montana concluded that students who smoke would be more likely to have increased absences, tardies, lower grades and attention span. If avoidance strategies of people addicted to tobacco are half as strong as tobacco researchers say they are, student enrollment will suffer as a result of the complete outdoor smoking ban. Particularly students in the arts and international students from countries such as China, which have higher smoking rates, have many choices and may look elsewhere for their education. . In addition to diminished morale, the ban would contribute to vehicle traffic and congestion.
Students who smoke will likely spend less time on campus and avail themselves less frequently of campus dining options – leading to a reduction in university revenues and a less vigorous student presence on campus. All these factors remain extremely difficult to measure, and anti-smoking activists who claim to have measured no impact from smoke-free campus policies elsewhere misrepresent the situation Thomas Lambert, Associate Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law states that “taking a conservative estimate of 20 percent of students who smoke out a university body of 20,000 gives us the figure of 4000 smoking students. Consequences of an outdoor ban on campus would increase vehicle traffic. If just half of these 4000 students who smoke have access to a car and use it to leave campus just once more a week for lunch or a break (as a result of the ban), this equals two thousand extra car trips a week around the university. Unlike tobacco outdoors, vehicle exhaust does pose a significant health risk to others, and the extra traffic (some 60,000 extra car trips an academic year as a conservative estimate) will increase the university’s carbon footprint accordingly.” More importantly the ban would elevate risk of harm to students and members of the university community.
San Francisco State University Police Chief Patrick Wasley states “Walking alone on a college campus at night can be dangerous for anyone; however women tend to be more at risk. Underage drinking often compounds these dangers. Often times, criminals will prey on or near campus life looking for unsuspecting victims. This can lead to hazardous situations that include robbery, rape, assault and more.” Lambert’s concerns are more directed to the elevated risks to students and faculty who live on campus and/or attend late night classes that would be forced to step off campus to smoke. He states the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law as well as neighboring Universities do not have the resources for the (walk safe escort programs and shuttle services) to accommodate students or faculty for an activity (smoking) that university administrators want to stigmatize further. Forcing students and faculty to leave campus for a smoke break obviously elevates risks to their safety; especially in the case of differently abled students and those with reduced mobility. Pushing them off campus seems particularly hard to justify and even a cruel approach. It is understandable that a smoke free campus could portray a much cleaner and healthier environment. For many the absence of the odor alone would satisfactory. I would agree to all of this; however smokers are going to find a comfortable place to smoke regardless of the ban. Enforcement could be very challenging. There are various opinions on designated smoking areas with the majority of people against it, as it doesn’t allow a campus to claim its smoke free. Yet the argument structures around cost for shelters and receptacles for a designated area. Very few have researched the expense for enforcement of a complete ban compared to an enforced designated area.
The University of Michigan spent about $240,000 in 2011 to enforce the no smoking ban. While Universities such as University of Nevada Reno spent only $43,245 enforcing its designated area smoking policy. University of Nevada Reno placed two designated smoking areas away from all buildings, one of which near a parking lot on the South side of campus and the other at the North end behind building near an open field. This helped them maintain a smoke free environment for the majority of the campus and keep smoking groups more out of sight. This could easily be a safer, carbon reducing, cost saving and friendlier alternative to a harsh smoking ban that would diminish morale among students who smoke, contribute to vehicle traffic and congestion, and elevate risk of harm to students and members of the university community.