Campus-wide tobacco ban passed; will go into effect in August
On May 19, the President’s Executive Committee unanimously approved a tobacco-free policy for the university campus, which will go into effect August 1.
Jessica Borcky, outgoing president of the Student Government Association, said the policy will prohibit all tobacco products as well as electronic cigarettes.
She said the policy will cover all university property, including the campuses in Wilmington and in Kent and Sussex counties. Use of tobacco products inside private vehicles on campus will also be prohibited, she said.
“Support for a tobacco-free policy initiated from student concern about the health risks of tobacco use and secondhand smoke,” Borcky said. “The purpose is to allow for a fulfilling collegiate experience on a healthy and supportive campus.”
Borcky said the SGA polled 2,202 undergraduate and graduate students and found that 72 percent supported a tobacco-free policy. In November of 2012, the SGA passed a resolution expressing support for a ban, she said.
Last year, a Tobacco-Free Advisory Committee was created, which drafted a preliminary policy, Borcky said. On March 10, the Faculty Senate held an open hearing for students and employees to express their views, and changes were made to the policy before it went before the Executive Committee, she said.
“The tobacco-free policy aligns with the university’s Path to Prominence by fostering a safe and healthy environment, decreasing pollution on campus and advancing sustainability initiatives,” Borcky said.
Deni Galileo, associate professor of biology and president of the Faculty Senate, said he has mixed feelings about the policy.
“It is good in principle, but it is inconsistent with other UD policies,” Galileo said. “I would say that most people I have talked to think the ban is too rigid and neglects the rights, needs and safety of tobacco users for the sake of being politically correct.”
Galileo said it is inconsistent to completely ban tobacco on campus while allowing other risky activities, such as alcohol consumption.
“Alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than tobacco to students on campus, and we are not an alcohol-free campus,” Galileo said. “In fact, we just opened up an on-campus bar, yet a person will not be able to smoke outside in the middle of a field by themselves.”
John Morgan, associate professor of physics and astronomy, said he feels the disadvantages of the policy were not adequately considered. He said he worries about the safety of students who will have to leave campus to smoke late at night.
“I don’t like the idea that students who want to smoke a cigarette before bed should have to leave the relatively safety of campus,” Morgan said. “They will be forced to go to less safe areas such as Main Street or the parking lot behind the Galleria, where there have been shootings and stabbings in the past year.”
Morgan also compared the pollution from cigarette smoking to the pollution that will be generated by the new power plant on the STAR campus. He said the plant will emit as much carcinogenic particulate matter per day as 26 million cigarettes.
From what he can tell, Morgan said the faculty are divided on the ban—some are in favor, others strongly opposed.
“We don’t know how the UD faculty as a whole feel about this ban because nobody ever conducted a survey of their opinions,” Morgan said. “But there seemed to be very little enthusiasm for a ban when it was discussed in the open hearing.”
Once the ban goes into effect, Borcky said, signs will be posted around campus notifying passersby. For students and employees who want to quit, smoking cessation resources will be available, she said.
“Compliance with this policy is the responsibility of all members of the university community,” Borcky said. “We support a positive, educational and resource-based approach to enforcement.”
Borcky said she believes the tobacco-free policy will improve student health and quality of life on campus.
“We believe it is a safety policy for the greater good,” she said. “Smokers can still smoke off campus and on public property.”
But Galileo said students should learn to be responsible for their own health.
“People here, for the most part, are adults and have to learn to make their own decisions about what they want to do,” he said.