Debate Over Smoking Ban Continues
By: Nick Turinsky
One of the many topics being debated at Michigan State University is whether smoking should be banned on campus.
The issue of a smoke-free campus began last spring semester after the MSU administration began discussing the decision of the University of Michigan to enforce a smoke-free campus, says Dylan Miller, a political theory and constitutional democracy senior.
Miller, the ASMSU Vice President for Governmental Affairs, said that ASMSU has taken no stance on this issue and that it is still being debated on at the meetings.
“The ban will be inconvenient,” said David Allan Smith, a nursing freshman. “Students will be running late to classes and I also believe those students would skip their classes just to have a cigarette.”
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, said Smith.
“Both smokers and non-smokers,” said Smith, “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,” said Makowski.
What other rights of his will be taken away if this ban is implemented, said Makowski. 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.
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 needs to be done.
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 a policy which enforces a total 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,” said Allen.
“I would definitely support a smoke free campus,” said Sarah Dix, a hospitality business junior. “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.”
Some people feel that banning smoking on campus is an infringement on their rights, but 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.
However, if the policy is implemented, will it be enforced?
“If somebody was smoking cigarettes on campus,” said Dix, “And police officers told them they need to go off campus, I think they will because it is illegal and there could be consequences.”
Smokers would try to protest if the policy is implemented, but she thinks it is manageable considering the U of M seems to be doing fine with their ban, said Dix.
In William Bodrie III’s opinion, an engineering sophomore at the U of M, the ban is successful.
“While it is illegal to smoke on campus,” Bodrie said, “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 that most smokers go off campus or to the borders of campus to smoke.
“The ban helps make the campus look nicer,” said Bodrie.
Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs educator at Olin Health Center, Rebecca Allen, 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?” asked Allen.
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. However, like Dix, some believe smokers do not take this seriously.
“(We need to) work with smokers on how to limit smoke exposure for others,” said Allen, “And work with everyone on saying something to people smoking too close to buildings.”
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,” said Allen.