This summer, the President’s Cabinet voted unanimously to approve a new campus-wide smoking policy. The former policy, which allowed individuals to smoke cigarettes anywhere on campus that was no closer than 30 feet to a doorway, has been replaced with a significantly more restrictive policy. The new policy bans smoking in all but two designated smoking areas: one on the main campus and one on the Lone Mountain campus, and is effective immediately.
Fr. Stephen Privett, USF President, wrote of the decision, “Restricting smoking on the Hilltop protects the health and well-being of all who live, work, study or visit the campus. Keeping our air smoke-free will require some individuals to sacrifice for the good of us all.” This was in an e-mail sent to all USF students, faculty and staff in July, shortly after the policy was finalized.
Though the new policy may have seemed like an abrupt and sudden change from the formerly relaxed policy, it is actually the compromise developed from a two-year long conversation between the Health and Safety Commission and the university’s administration, including the president’s cabinet, the ASUSF senate, the university provost council, and the faculty union.
Kamal Harb, Director of Health Promotion and Services, said it was important to gain feedback from all groups that the policy would affect before drafting their proposal, and gathering these different perspectives proved to be useful in drafting the final proposal. “The original proposal of the task force wanted to have a smoke free campus. A total ban of smoking everywhere on campus,” said Harb, who chaired the smoking task force. “My approach is that I always want the students’ feedback. The first person I approached was [2007-08 student body president] James Kilton.” After sending the proposal for a totally smoke free campus to senate, it was they who recommended designated smoking areas as a compromise that would satisfy smokers and non-smokers alike.
Kilton wrote to the smoking task force last spring, “[Designated smoking areas] would empower non-smokers to enforce the campus policy (as they would do under a campus-wide ban), lessen the negative reaction that would be received by the smoking population while respecting their rights, and decrease secondhand smoke exposure.”
The effects of the policy remain to be seen; however as fall semester classes begin and on-campus residents settle in to their residence halls, smokers mingling in the usual locales, such as in front of the cafeteria or in front of the freshman residence halls, is not an uncommon sight, and no one seems to be actively enforcing the ban that prohibits them from smoking there.
Chuck White, who sits on the smoking task force, explained that the new policy is still in a transition period. With Facilities Management occupied with Kalmanovitz Hall and other summer remodeling projects, having “No Smoking” signs posted and getting ashtrays removed from non-smoking areas was postponed. As such, they are being especially lenient with smokers who do not fully understand the new policy. As for reprimanding smokers who smoke in non-smoking zones, White said there was no plan to enforce the policy through any kind of formal punishment system. “It’s a passive enforcement. It’s not aggressive. We don’t want to punish anybody. They will be encouraged by the actions of everybody else to go to the designated areas.”
Harb echoed this sentiment. His hope was not to punish smokers but instead to help them. “I like people to make an informed decision and give them all the information. And if they want to smoke, that’s their choice. But it’s my job as a public health person to give them the information,” he said. “I really truly believe that this policy will help people quit smoking.”
There are currently two designated smoking areas at USF. On the main campus, it is the garden between Gillson and Phelan Halls, and on Lone Mountain it is the grassy area near the Wolf and Kettle Cafe. This policy stands to remain intact until two years from now, when it will be reevaluated.