Smoking ban proving ineffective, unenforceable


By Rachel Kimbrough

The campus-wide tobacco ban has been in effect for three months now. The effort has proven futile and counterproductive thus far.

For one thing, the ban did not improve the cigarette-butt litter issue—the litter issue just moved, mainly to parking areas and poorly-lit outdoor stairwells. The logic behind that solution never made sense anyway. If the college wanted to improve general litter, for example, the solution would not be to remove all the trash cans. Likewise, expecting the removal of tobacco waste bins to solve the tobacco waste issue is nothing short of backwards reasoning.

For another thing, this is yet another area in which the need for more campus security officials is apparent. There is simply no way for this ban to be effectively enforced, not by any fault of the existing campus security staff members, but simply due to the ratio of campus police to students, faculty and staff on campus. There’s no way for such a comparatively small security staff to keep up with the tens of thousands of people on campus.

Here’s a fun development on that note: this ban has (albeit unintentionally, I hope) empowered non-smokers to be openly discriminatory toward smokers, regardless of whether said smokers are in legal smoking areas. Just today a fellow fully screamed expletives at my friend and me about our habits as we sat in my car, i.e. a permitted smoking area. (You stay classy, gentleman in the parking garage.)

That didn’t happen before the smoking ban. Not with that extreme sort of righteous anger, anyway.

Lastly, the near-complete removal of smoking areas has done nothing to increase a healthy atmosphere on campus. That’s an entirely counterintuitive result—you would think that an asthmatic person, for example, would have an easier time dodging plumes of smoke now that smoking is no longer allowed on campus. What’s actually happening, though, is people will smoke anywhere, absolutely anywhere, with no chance at happening to be in a clearly-marked designated smoking area.

Before the tobacco ban, some smokers did, yes, smoke outside of the designated areas. But tobacco use was still mainly limited to a few spots on campus, with signs that told everyone to avoid that area if they didn’t want to walk through smoke.

Now that there are almost none of those areas, save a couple huts outside of ITC, non-smokers have no shot at predicting where there might be clouds of smoke. For the purposes of avoiding smoke, the tobacco ban is as effective as making the entire campus a designated smoking area.

This is what arises from an all-or-nothing solution.

Here’s my solution: implement more, strategically-placed smoking huts like the ones outside of ITC, and make consequences of smoking outside of those huts far harsher than a $10 fine and a slap on the wrist.

That solves the litter problem. That solves the health problem, the inconvenience to non-smokers. That solves the smokers’ disregard for campus police and lack of enforcement.

Something the college has not tried before is simultaneously having designated smoking areas on campus and consequences for smoking outside of those areas. There has been no attempt to find the happy medium in that way. The college should try that out.

Contact Rachel Kimbrough, editor-in-chief, at


  1. This is not a public health issue. Antismoking groups have pushed their propaganda based on the effects of SHS for years. Their statements are based on half truths, lies and flawed studies. The administration has used these fraudulent tactics to enact regulations against smoking on campus. Shame on you! You are supposed to be an institution of higher learning not the ministry of propaganda. Your policies have created a polarizing effect between smokers and nonsmokers. Perhaps, you should add Bigotry 101 to your curriculum.

  2. Timely article. If we looked at “smoking” from the academic perspective we could have fun with this:

    Don’t we teach about the inherent evils of smoking in preK-12? Don’t we teach about the adverse health conditions associated with smoking?
    Don’t we teach about different student learning styles and try to match it up with “multiple intelligences”?
    Don’t we try to use different teaching styles, methodology and pedagogy all aimed at what? Having students learn that smoking is bad (for them and for others around them)?
    Though we might have professors that smoke, so maybe they teach about the “propaganda” against smoking? 🙂

    How do we teach for a desired result (say, quit smoking)? What do we teach about smoking in the first place? How do we measure the effectiveness of our teaching? 🙂 Ideally, there would be a correlation between teaching and zero smoking.

    This could be the academic approach to a commonplace behavior: smoking.

    So, why are we still having kids light up in the first place? Why do we still have smokers in their teens, 20s, 30s . . . 60s? Why do non-smokers have to put up with this at all?

    I think the answer is simple: we each know and learn (by whatever method) what we should be doing and not doing, but it boils down to human free will or CHOICE.

    We have to create new policies, new bans, etc. to deal with some people’s choice (okay, some will call it addiction) to smoking. However, what is the best way to prevent a middle schooler from lighting up? what is the best way to prevent the high schooler from choosing to smoke (and later becoming addicted)?

    For all the money we spend in education, in providing huts, trash cans, and smoking receptacles, plus employee hours in enforcement of policies or devising new anti-smoking schemes, what does it get us?

    I agree that the fines could easily increase: create a “Smokers’ Scholarship Fund” so that non-smoking students that need financial aid can directly benefit from students that are fined for smoking in undesignated spaces. Although, how would a non-smoking student prove he/she does not smoke?

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