Students speak out about Southern’s smoke-free campus policy
Jessica Pellegrino – General Assignment Reporter
Southern made their first stride towards a smoke-free campus in 2011, when the gazebos around campus were taken out, leaving smokers without shelter. In 2012, Southern announced interest in joining the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative, a program launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Southern even created a “Smoke-Free Campus Policy” in 2012.
The policy, available publicly on the Southern website, reads, “Southern Connecticut State University is a smoke-free campus. Smoking is prohibited inside all buildings including State and University owned vehicles. This restriction applies to all indoor space, including private faculty and administrative offices and dining facilities. Smoking is banned in all classrooms, offices, building entrances, hallways, stairwells, reception areas, restrooms, work and eating areas, elevators, meeting rooms, lounges, and all common areas. This policy applies equally to employees and visitors. The thoughtfulness, consideration, and cooperation of all members of the University community are needed.”
Big words, yet, here we are today two years later and the policy seems to have gone up in smoke. Today, the rule of thumb seems to be that smokers should stay a negligible 25 feet away from buildings. Nobody follows that “rule” because it isn’t enforced by the campus police.
Abby Shimer, senior and nonsmoker, weighs in on the debate. “I don’t think it is really fair, but I also still think it’s a good idea.” said Shimer. “It’s definitely not fair to isolate people who smoke like that. However, if I want to be healthy, it’s also not fair for me to get cancer from second hand smoke, even though I don’t smoke. Also, restricting smokers helps to give them a push towards healthier habits, by forcing them to not smoke at school.”
This is a compelling debate in the situation. Cancer from secondhand smoke is a real problem. According to the National Cancer Institute, any level of secondhand smoke can be dangerous. Some students take pride in their health and go to great lengths to make sure they stay healthy.
However, does banning smoking from college campuses infringe on the rights of the students? Even nonsmokers have an opinion on this debate. Robert DelGuidice, junior, said students should be able to smoke if they want to.
“I don’t smoke, but people definitely do,” said DelGuidice. “I totally understand recruiting it in public areas, like inside building and even directly outside building. But I don’t agree with banning it all together. That just seems really excessive and unnecessary. If someone’s cigarette smoke is bothering you, just walk away.”
Jack Kelly, Southern junior and smoker, believes a smoke free campus would be completely unfair. “I absolutely think that making Southern a smoke free campus would go against the student’s rights. In my opinion, students should be free to smoke cigarettes if they choose to. Smoking is a personal choice and one that be respected.” said Kelly.
Smoking is a legal activity for college aged individuals. So, by making Southern smoke free, are administrators criminalizing something that is completely legal? As these new policies potentially come to fruition, students will form opinions and the debate over a smoke free campus will continue at Southern.