University considers smoking ban
by Liz Conn / ASSOCIATE CAMPUS EDITOR
Feb 24, 2011 | 7514 views | 6 6 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Smokers on campus may soon get burned.

The Campus Health and Wellness Committee, made up of faculty, staff and students, is investigating the possibility of making Auburn a smoke-free campus.

The initiative stems from a letter a group of students wrote to President Jay Gogue in spring 2010 asking him to consider eliminating smoking on campus.

The main concern of the University is secondhand smoke, said Eric Smith, committee member and director of health promotion and wellness services.

“I’ve always approached this as trying to protect the rights of a majority, not punish a minority,” Smith said. “Because if the majority of the population here isn’t smoking, but they have to walk through clouds of smoke just going about their daily business here, our environment is hurting them in that regard.”

With more than 50 chemicals in cigarette smoke known to be direct causes of cancer, smoking kills approximately 400,000 people each year, Smith said. Of that number, secondhand smoke kills 40,000.

“You’re here to get an education, you’re here to work, you’re here to be part of the Auburn family, and you don’t need to be exposed to secondhand smoke as a part of that,” Smith said. “That’s the argument people are making.”

In November, the Surgeon General released a report saying secondhand smoke is not safe to breathe at any level.

“Smoking is bad for your health—period,” said Fred Kam, director of the AU Medical Clinic. “I understand it may inconvenience some people who are smokers, et cetera, but there is no health benefit that they will get out of continuing to smoke. If it’s something we can do to help decrease their risk factors for stroke, heart disease, cancer and other things, then it makes total sense.”

In the United States, 466 college campuses have smoking bans, with the only one in Alabama being Calhoun Community College. In the SEC, Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt and Arkansas are smoke free.

Georgia and Alabama are considering their options also, Smith said.

Smith has organized a team of students and faculty to gauge opinions on the issue through surveys, a possible town forum and a newly launched blog.

“The feedback I’ve received so far has been pretty positive for the most part,” Smith said. “We’ve talked to a lot of people and a lot of different audiences, and generally speaking, people are OK with it.”

Smith said an option for the University to consider is establishing “buffer zones,” or areas around buildings where smoking is prohibited to a certain distance.

“You’ve got to make headway where you can,” Smith said. “If we’re enabling people to walk in and breathe clean air coming in the building, that’s a good thing. There’s a lot of good reasons out there for just going completely smoke free though, and that would be the preferred way to go.”

Another reason, Smith said, is the cost associated with smoking—both for the University and for the state.

Smith said research at the University of Kentucky estimated self-insured institutions spend an extra $5,200 in lifetime insurance costs per smoker.

On a larger scale, the American Lung Association reported in 2010 that smoking costs Alabama $3.68 billion each year.

Kam said he would expect a no-smoking policy to cause a decrease in the number of smokers.

“I think if it became more inconvenient, then there’s a higher likelihood that they would have more of an incentive to stop,” Kam said.

Smith said the University would announce the policy far enough in advance to allow smokers time to prepare, as well as offer cessation programs to help smokers quit.

“We wouldn’t want to say, ‘No smoking’ and not offer ways for students, faculty and staff to stop smoking,” Smith said. “The cessation programs are key.”

Kim Trupp, director of housing, said she thinks a no-smoking policy might deter students from living on campus.

“What may happen is, especially with first-year students, maybe mom, dad or whoever takes care of them doesn’t know they smoke,” Trupp said. “Mom and dad want them to live on campus, so they’re kind of in between a rock and a hard place if that happens. Then hopefully that would be a motivation to quit smoking before they ever got here to campus.”

Smith said the biggest hurdle his committee faces is the question of how the policy would be enforced.

“I don’t know if we have a lock stock answer on that yet,” Smith said. “It’s still being debated…We’re looking for ideas.”

At some universities, a campus police force issues citations or tickets to people found smoking.

Smith said Auburn would not use police enforcement, instead treating student violations as a conduct issue and employee violations as a supervisory issue.

Students and faculty can share their opinions at www.auburnsmokingpolicy.wordpress.com or by sending an e-mail to eric.smith@auburn.edu.

“I want to hear your feedback,” Smith said. “We need to hear not only from smokers who are anti, but from people who have educated themselves about the issue and feel that secondhand smoke is a public health issue. I hate for there to be this silent majority out there that doesn’t get heard.”

Comments
(6)
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logancooper
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December 21, 2011
Good work, it’s pleasure to read your interesting articles. Waiting for more
flamencochueca
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February 26, 2011
wow

flamencochueca
judimaria
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February 25, 2011
Smoking should be ban in university its a good decision

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Carstenantoon
|
February 25, 2011
Its a good decision will benefit everyone.

http://www.renewlife.com/oilsmart.html
carpept
|
February 24, 2011
I quit smoking cigarettes (smoking at all, really) about a year ago. However, I'm prepared to start smoking three packs a day on campus if any such discriminatory and petty regulations are put into place. "Clouds of smoke"? Grow up. How's that for feedback?
DON'TPANIC
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February 24, 2011
I do not agree with this at all. I'm not sure what campus you have been walking on, but no where around Auburn have I walked through a "cloud of smoke". The people who do smoke, the few that there are, typically smoke far enough away from buildings that it does effect the nonsmokers. Smoking is not just a silly, unhealthy habit. I know many people who smoke only occasionally to relieve stress and anxiety caused by tests and exams and personal problems. It is simply their way to help themselves. You cannot condemn them for that. The only time I have ever seen a "cloud of smoke" is outside of RBD during exam week. Few actually remember that RBD use to allow smoking INSIDE of the library during exam week, showing that Auburn acknowledged the fact that smoking actually helped many students during that grueling week.

We are in college. We are old enough and wise enough to make decisions for ourselves. If we choose to delve into an unhealthy habit, than so be it. That is our decision, not yours. And basically forcing students and faculty to quit smoking using cessation programs and the inconvenience of smoking far away from civilization is an obscene violation of our personal freedoms and I know many will not stand for such an injustice. We have the RIGHT as Americans to choose whether we want to quit or not, it is not up to a few faculty members and students to decide for us.

Auburn is not a smoking campus. I see fewer than 5 or 10 people a day smoking. Such a small number does not require such a dramatic decision. It is not the smokers who will get burned on this, it will be the committee members who came up with this poor plan from the onslaught of backlash from students and facility alike.