As the U.S. has slowly begun to become a smoke-free country, Michigan State University is now visiting the idea of banning smokers on campus.
This issue of a smoke-free campus began during the Spring 2012 semester after the MSU administration began discussing the decision of the University of Michigan to enforce a smoke-free campus, said Dylan Miller.
Miller, ASMSU Vice President for Governmental Affairs, said that ASMSU has taken no stance on this issue and that it is still being debated at the meetings.
For David Allan Smith, a nursing freshman, “the ban will be inconvenient because students will be running late to classes, and I also believe those students would skip their classes just to have a cigarette.”
Smith also said that this ban would have no impact on helping people try to quit. He believes people would still go out of their way to have a cigarette.
Although he has negative thoughts on this possible ban, Smith said, “both smokers and non-smokers should discuss and come to an agreement on this issue.”
Jay Makowski, an employee of South Neighborhood Residential Dining and a smoker of 15 years, said he finds this ban to be intrusive.
“I respect people’s healthy lifestyles, but they need to respect my right to smoke,” he said.
Makowski said he worries about what other choices will be taken away if this ban is implemented. Like Smith, Makowski thinks there should be a successful compromise of both smokers and non-smokers.
“I would hope both sides remain respectful and be able to come to a compromise,” said Makowski.
This possibility of having designated areas reserved for smoking on campus should also be a possible alternative. Both Makowski and Smith said they feel designated areas would be more successful as long as there are at least a few of them.
Although some people disagree with banning smoking on campus, some people feel it’s necessary.
Nancy Allen, the Health Promotion Services Integration Coordinator at the University Physician’s Office, said she thinks the current smoking policy needs to be changed to enforce a totally smoke-free policy for all of campus.
“The primary rationale for the policy change should be MSU’s intent to provide a campus environment that promotes the health, well-being and safety of all faculty, staff, students and visitors, both smokers and non-smokers alike,” Allen said.
Some people feel that banning smoking on campus is an infringement on their rights, but hospitality business junior Sarah Dix said that it is an infringement on her own rights when people smoke around her because she does not want to inhale other people’s smoke, and she feels that the smoke is harming her body.
I would definitely support a smoke free campus because I hate when I am walking to class and someone is smoking in front of me. It feels like I am inhaling all of their second-hand smoke,” she said.
The questions remains, however, if the policy would even enforced if it goes through.
“If somebody was smoking cigarettes on campus and police officers told them they need to go off campus, I think they will because it is illegal and there could be consequences,” Dix said.
Dix also said that smokers would try to protest it if the policy is implemented, but she thinks it is manageable seeing as the U of M seems to be doing fine with their ban.
Engineering sophomore at U of M William Bodrie thinks the ban is successful.
“While it is illegal to smoke on campus, I still see a few people smoking on the streets. There’s not a strong enforcement but there really isn’t a need for one because there aren’t that many smokers here on campus,” Bodrie said.
Bodrie said that most smokers go off or to the borders of campus to smoke.
“The ban helps make the campus look nicer,” he said.
Rebecca Allen, educator of “Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs” at Olin Health Center, said she believes that if students are not allowed to smoke outside on campus, then there is a chance that they could smoke in more enclosed areas, which would create bigger health risks for others.
“Will smokers congregate at entry and exit locations around the campus boundaries thereby creating real second-hand smoke hazards for other individuals?” Allen said.
Allen said that she thinks they should start a polite smoker campaign, in which smokers must smoke at least 25 feet away from all buildings, but like Dix, she doesn’t feel that some smokers take this rule seriously.
“Work with smokers on how to limit smoke exposure for others and work with everyone on saying something to people smoking too close to buildings,” said Allen.
Allen said she thinks inviting smokers to be an active part of this discussion would be the best solution.
“I almost think we could get to the same place with gentle and well designed persuasion as opposed to an outright ban,” Allen said.