TU should institute non-smoking policy

As of July 3, 2017, at least 1,913 college campuses were 100 percent smoke-free, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. A subset of these also prohibited e-cigarettes, hookah or marijuana smoking. For Oklahoma, some of these smokefree schools include Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma. Not included on the list? The University of Tulsa.
Instead, TU’s policy is no smoking within 25 feet of any building, which is readily ignored whenever it gets too cold out, or whenever a smoker feels like it. Countless times have I troughed through a cloud of smoke walking through the Hardesty Hall arch. It doesn’t help that ashtrays are located close to buildings, giving a convenient excuse for smokers.
But smoke-free campuses are possible, as demonstrated by the number that have gone smoke-free. Why should TU, however?
Smokefree campuses result in less secondhand smoke for nonsmokers merely trying to get to class, put less stress on those trying to quit smoking and lead to a cleaner campus. Additionally, research on non-smoking campuses has demonstrated smoking bans reduce smoking, and while it may not be the university’s goal to reduce smoking — it is your choice whether to smoke or not — that’s a nice added benefit.
A review of studies concerning anti-smoking policies and students behavior on campus, done by Brooke Bennett, Melodi Deiner and Pallav Pokhrel studied the outcome of smoking bans on a number of campuses. The review found that interventions that promoted compliance, as well as increasing the availability of smoking cessation services on campus, led to a reduced pro-smoking attitude, exposure to secondhand smoke and proportions of high- and low-frequency smokers.
Overall, the studies suggested smoking policies were effective in reducing the smoking behavior of students and exposure to secondhand smoke. Again, reducing smoking need not be TU’s goal in implementing such a ban — as adults, students should feel free to smoke, if they wish, but those who do not should not be exposed to their toxic pastime.
And this is the biggest counter-argument to any smoking ban, no matter the location: smoking is still a legal pastime and as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, it should be allowed wherever, opponents say. But other legal pastimes, like alcohol, that pose a danger to others, have some restrictions.
Second-hand smoke has been shown to be dangerous to others, and an annoying nuisance even without the carcinogens, so the university has a valid reason to further limit smoking on campus — the health of the majority of the population.
A ban would not prevent smokers from going off campus, or even to a less central, designated place, where they could smoke. TU’s campus isn’t as big as some of the campuses with smoking bans mentioned earlier, and smokers at those schools adapted to changes. Surely smokers at TU can do the same, so that others who choose not to smoke, whether for health reasons or otherwise, will not be exposed to noxious air and carcinogens on their way to class.
As a private university, TU has the ability to ban smoking from its campuses. Other private institutions have done so, whether legislatively mandated or not, as well as other universities. A smoke-free campus could be another thing TU prides itself on.
In creating a smoking ban, TU could choose to deal with rule-breakers in one of two ways, as done on other campuses: fines for those who violate the ban or directing smokers to resources to help them quit. With the latter approach, universities like the University of Michigan are hoping for a change in norms that will eventually lead to a decrease in smoking on campus, as discussed earlier. I would hope, and believe, TU students to be respectful if a ban were implemented, so that imposing fines would be a non-issue. But consequences of breaking such a ban would still need to be considered when implementing one.
TU should institute a campus-wide smoking ban. This could be done by getting student opinion in SA meetings and then passing a recommendation off to administrators. At the very least, smoking should be restricted around the school, perhaps creating “smoker havens,” where those who must light up can, but far away from the path of those who don’t smoke or who are trying to quit smoking.

Post Author: Michaela Flonard