Improve TU #3: Smoking policies lose effectiveness with poorly placed ashtrays

On-campus smoking rules limit smoking to areas 25 feet away from building doors. Rules that are unenforceable are no kind of rule at all, but a way to undercut your own authority. Even worse, rules undermined by your own design are unenforceable at the onset.

I know, I know: smoking? It’s smoke in Oklahoma, the wind will just blow it wherever it wants anyway. The problem isn’t wind, though, it’s people who cannot be around smoke. The Center for Disease Control note that secondhand smoke has led to fatal health complications in the millions since 1964 such as lung cancer and strokes. Moreover, secondhand smoke harms people with asthma, creating an increased risk of asthma attacks.

Many ashtrays are set into the ground closer than 25 feet to building doors. The chance of exposure decreases rapidly when cigarettes and their users are a safe distance away from main entrances. People can give designated smoking areas a pass and walk around them, but doors are a necessity. Smokers and non-smokers alike find themselves vying over the same space, and smokers are physically encouraged to be close to doors, even if the policy forbids it.

In Fisher West, both ashtrays are too close, just a couple feet away from the front and back entrances. The cafeteria has a handy patio in the front that is easiest to use to smoke when it’s raining or even just when you want to sit down. Hardesty has a couple benches out in the open, but lacks an ashtray or shelter for inclement weather. One of the only buildings suited to smoking is the Allen Chapman Student Union, with a covered patio away from the main entrances.

People who smoke don’t want to stand in the rain, or even in the sun once the weather turns humid and insufferably warm. It is easiest to stand near the ashtray, and the ashtray is, again, close to the doors and usually in a sheltered area.

There are several easy ways to fix the problem. The first is to simply move the ashtrays. People will go where it seems easiest and makes the most sense to smoke. Currently, that’s near ashtrays that are next to the doors. If the university moved ashtrays to 25 feet away or more, the rules would be easier to follow.

If the university wanted to outdo itself, it could also provide overhangs or other coverage in case of inclement weather, or benches to sit on. However, budget-wise, the most straightforward solution is still to move the ashtrays. A simple solution to a simple problem that affects nearly every person on this campus in some way.

Post Author: tucollegian

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