SGA talks smoke-free campus, creates mixed reaction
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 21:10
The university could soon join numerous higher education institutions in becoming a smoke-free campus, according to Student Government Association adviser, Marilyn Prime.
Prime, the director of University Student Centers, said a group of students came to SGA members last spring with concerns about the secondhand smoke they were inhaling on campus. As a result, SGA senators created a proposal for a smoke-free campus and are working with university officials on a plan, she said.
“We are a great institution and we should align ourselves with other great institutions,” Prime said.
Senior and SGA President Michelle Barineau stated in an email that members conducted a survey last spring that revealed 74 percent of the 634 students polled supported the idea of making the university a smoke-free campus. Other colleges in the country have enforced this rule as well, she said.
“SGA’s 2012 research has found that at least 774 colleges or universities across the nation have adopted 100 percent smoke or tobacco-free campus policies, which includes both indoor and outdoor areas across the entire campus and residence halls,” Barineau said.
According to Barineau, 420 colleges implemented a smoking ban in 2010 and 530 campuses were smoke-free as of 2011. Both the University of Maryland and Towson University do not allow smoking on campus.
University officials will look at campuses with smoke-free policies as models for their own initiative and discuss these plans with their constituents, Prime said. She said it would probably take one to two years to enact a smoking ban.
Prime said Delaware’s laws that make restaurants smoke-free give the university’s initiative backing. Currently, the university already has rules that limit smokers from smoking near the entrances of buildings, she said.
Senior Evan Acuna, an occasional smoker, said he understands that rule, but he would not be in favor of a complete ban on smoking.
“I don’t think anyone walking around with a cigarette is bothering anyone,” Acuna said. “I mean, people live here too. This is home for some people, and if people want to step outside and have a cigarette they should be able to.”
While Prime is working on the smoking ban initiative, she said university officials are concerned about remaining respectful toward smokers.
“If they are going to look at bringing a policy that is smoke-free or tobacco-free there has to be programs to help those individuals who currently smoke who want to stop,” Prime said. “Resources need to be created.”
According to Michael Gilbert, vice president for Student Life, many smoke-free schools offer programs to help faculty and students quit smoking. He said university officials need more feedback from the community to create a successful proposal.
“It is a complicated issue since it involves staff, faculty and guests, so we have to be thoughtful and deliberate in the review of the issue,” Gilbert said. “It is complicated because it affects so many.”
Sophomore Katie Kramedas said although she thinks a ban on smoking could be controversial because people have the right to smoke, she supports the idea.