One year later: campus is still tobacco free
Alex Palmieri – News Writer
For over a year, Southern has developed a tobacco free campus. It is apparent that the number of smokers has gone down within this time period.
The recommendations to make this happen were supported by students, staff and faculty. Both smoking and tobacco use are prohibited by the campus with no exceptions.
Diane S. Morgenthaler, director of the Granoff student health services, said it was originally an initiative that was proposed to the Health and Safety Committee by then president of Southern, Mary Papazian. There were other campuses in the state that were tobacco free, and Morgenthaler said it was something that looked to be positive. A little over a year into the policy, she said the numbers have gone down.
“From my personal viewpoint,” said Morgenthaler, “it seems to be much less. I think we’ve made some strides on getting people to quit, which is really the main goal for this whole thing.”
Morgenthaler said the intention of the policy at first was not to be punitive, but more to educate students and get people to quit smoking. She added she thinks that the number of smokers on campus has been cut down significantly.
“We’ve had a couple different programs in place to help students quit smoking, or even to begin to think about it,” said Morgenthaler. “I think from a health standpoint, it has become much less of a problem.”
Morgenthaler said most campuses that have put in a tobacco free policy into effect, have seen change. She said it becomes a part of the culture overtime. Morgenthaler added that results cannot be seen in just a few days.
“It’s not something we expected to happen overnight,” said Morgenthaler. “The new students coming in kind of accept that.”
It is not uncommon to still see students smoking and vaping on campus. Morgenthaler said the university simply cannot stop everyone from smoking. But, she said, Southern is beginning to take ID numbers of those students that are frequent smokers.
“It’s a community policy,” said Morgenthaler. “So it’s really up to everyone as a community to ‘see something, say something.’ It’s not always easy for everyone to do, but police have more actively enforced the policy.”
Dylan Willette said he thinks the amount of smokers has gone down since the policy kicked in over a year ago. Though there are still some students who smoke on campus, Willette said since the rule has been put into place at the university, the number has dropped.
“To make students stop smoking on campus,” said Willette, “make a designated smoking area just off campus. That way it’s not on campus and there’s a compromise between the smokers and non-smokers.”
As a smoker, Willette said everyone has their own right to do what they please. However when it comes down to a scenario of smokers and non-smokers, Willette said the non-smokers will win because of the massive amounts of health concerns smoking causes.
“I think new students coming onto the campus realizing that this is a tobacco free campus,” said Willette, “they will integrate themselves into the rules. I think the number of students smoking on campus will absolutely drop.”
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana