Tobacco ban largely ignored on campus

Tobacco Free Campus Faculty Senate Meeting topic_13043773505_l
Members of the university community disregard the tobacco ban.


Despite the tobacco-free policy that went into effect more than a year ago, students still witness smoking and tobacco use across campus.

The university’s non-smoking policy states that smoking and tobacco use, including e-cigarettes and related products, on campus is prohibited. However, the policy’s success depends on the “cooperation and consideration” of the university community.

“We aren’t a completely tobacco-free campus,” junior Amanda Shapiro said. “It’s a good thing that they have the rule in place, but they’ve been slacking in enforcing it.”

Shapiro said she does not think the policy is well-advertised. She said the administration should address the student body to make sure everyone knows that campus is tobacco-free.

Stefan Bartell, a second-year graduate student, said part of the reason might be confusion over where campus ends and the city of Newark begins.

“If there were some rule that made it easier to tell whether people were breaking it—like you can’t smoke within some distance of the university buildings—then it would be easier to follow,” he said.

Rebecca Jaeger, president of Student Government Association (SGA), said the idea behind the policy is “to have the community take ownership of the issue and enforce the policy among ourselves.” She agreed that it currently is not being enforced well enough. SGA proposed the ban before it went into effect in August 2014.

“One thing SGA is looking into is more signage and publicity for the ban,” Jaeger said. “It is still a new policy, so we are constantly looking at new ways to increase awareness of the ban and improve its enforcement.”

Ana Martínez-Vela, a visiting professor from the University of Granada, said she has been a smoker for years. Like many smokers, Martínez-Vela is trying to kick the habit.

She said she is normally a very strong-willed person and can do anything she sets her mind to, but quitting smoking has proved to be harder than she thought. Martínez-Vela said she hates to see young people start smoking. She would rather see them engaging in more healthy, creative hobbies than using tobacco.

“Cigarettes are an addiction, just like drugs. It’s better never to start,” she said. “Be a reader or enjoy movies or paint or go hiking, anything instead of that stupid habit.”

Martínez-Vela said she knows how easy it is to miss the signs of a growing addiction. Many young people smoke at parties or in other social settings, but Shapiro said the toll it takes on your health and your wallet aren’t worth it.

Shapiro interned at a hospital over the summer and saw many patients with lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

She said smoking is one of the “stupidest” decisions someone can make. She said the patients she worked with who suffered from COPD would agree with her.

“It’s so damaging and to start on that path for the sake of social interactions? I don’t think it’s very smart,” Shapiro said. “I don’t like seeing people start because I’ve seen what the end of that path looks like.”

Jaeger said the university adopted the tobacco-free policy “in an effort to make campus cleaner and to improve the air quality for everyone.” The health risks associated with tobacco use and secondhand smoke were also a major factor.

“Nothing should be positive about smoking,” Martínez-Vela said. “Absolutely nothing.”

  1. I preface my remark by agreeing that primary smoking contains risk (whereas so-called “secondhand smoke” is a load of b.s., especially when applied to outdoors). There isn’t a soul alive today that hasn’t been beaten over the head with that message. However, after taking that into account, saying, “Nothing should be positive about smoking,” becomes subjective. To determine for others what is “positive” in such a blanket statement is offensive. And laymen and scholars alike would agree. Just ask Mark Twain (and no, he never said, “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it a thousand times.” Snopes has busted that citation as a myth):

    “And you never try to find out how much solid comfort, relaxation and enjoyment a man derives from smoking in the course of a lifetime, (and which is worth ten times the money he would save by letting it alone,) nor the appalling aggregate of happiness lost in a lifetime by your kind of people from not smoking.” — MARK TWAIN IN THE CALIFORNIAN. June 17, 1865. Answers to Correspondents

    And then there’s C.S. Lewis: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

  2. From following this topic on online student boards and snippets from student papers for years, I’ve learned that this sort of ignoring of open air bans on campuses seems to be quite widespread. It’s a bad “law” and the students know it. The health claims in terms of walking by groups of smokers at doorways are nonsense: If you apply the EPA Report figures (which Antismokers usually love) and correct them for concentrations and durations of exposure you’ll find that to get single case of lung cancer occurring from that exposure you’d have to walk through a clump of doorway smokers every single day for literally two-hundred-and-fifty MILLION years! That’s about a thousand times as many years as humanity has even EXISTED!

    Students are intelligent enough to read and analyze what they’re reading. They know they’re being lied to and treated like lab rats in a behavioral conditioning experiment (i.e., make smoking more “painful” by forcing them off campus even at night in dangerous areas) with the goal being to socially engineer them into the “proper” pattern: being nonsmokers. They also know that cooperating on something at this level will simply encourage school administrators to escalate to harsher and more widespread types of behavior control (e.g., concerning drinking) in the future.

    If there are “smoking spots” where students hang out to smoke and chat between classes etc. I’d strongly urge a few of them to print up and bring along a copy of The Lies Behind The Smoking Bans… freely downloadable at so that if the school DOES start cracking down the smokers and their friends will know that there’s a good reason to fight back.

    – MJM

  3. Hmmm, well yeah of course bans like this do NOT work! It’s a legal activity, and as long as smokers smoke in a fashion where it doesn’t hit smokers downwind, they should have all the right in the world to smoke outside. Outdoor smoking bans are impossible to 100% enforce, anyway.


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