First of all, some corrections and clarifications:
The $800,000 grant that was received from PacificSource was actually received by Paula Staight, the Health Promotion Director at the UO Health Center, and is to be spent over five years. The grant will allow the Health Center to hire one full-time and two part-time employees to work on three aspects of a healthy lifestyle: Food, Movement, and Tobacco (specifically the eradication of). There will be no campus-wide policy attached to the smoking ban (see: you can’t get fined or face disciplinary action for smoking on campus).
Likely because there is not going to be any sort of sweeping campus policy change and there will be no additional costs to students, there seemed to be very little general student involvement this year regarding this policy. (This is also a trend in the Rousseau administration.) In the past, the Smoke Free Task Force has held open forums where students / faculty / staff can voice their concerns, but as is the case with most open forums, when there is no direct policy being critiqued, they draw little audience. It is also important to remember that a large number of people who use this campus are not students. As someone who frequents campus late at night (KWVA, DDS, library, etc.), I’ve noticed that a large portion of the custodial staff are in fact smokers. Granted, this shift will not likely affect them as there is no policy attached to it, but it is important to think about.
The Smoke Free Task Force Report [click for PDF] does provide a number of reasons for instigating a smoke-free campus, but it is important to remember that virtually all data regarding second-hand smoke refers to indoor concentration. I have yet to see any data on cigarette smoke in the ambient air. I’m tempted to refer to automobile exhaust — do people really think that all those carcinogens really stay in the ambient air forever? I’m not referring to atmospheric concerns — those are kind of irrelevant when talking about campus smokers. Someone, please, show me some data.
By moving smokers to the edge of campus, aren’t we going to create a wall of smoke that every student will have to walk through to get to campus? Doesn’t that also create a safety issue? And what about students who live on campus? If you get a craving at 2AM, and you have to walk out of your home (dorm) to smoke, out of DPS jurisdiction over onto Franklin or in the East Campus Neighborhood, how will that affect the student and those who live in that area? If anyone thinks people are going to change their behavior because of a sign and a few dirty looks, they are mistaken. Perhaps in a few years, when there is no institutional memory left, things will be different. For now, kids will be kids, and forcing them to change their lifestyle to something you perceive to be better is kind of overstepping your bounds (I’m talking about all parties involved, here).
A not-smoking-related concern: there is $800,000 going to a movement that has no teeth? Does that seem like a waste of money to anyone else?
This policy will have no affect on smokers on campus as of this date. If kids want to smoke, they will smoke. If someone gives me a dirty look while I’m smoking, I will offer them a cigarette. I do like that student smokers will not be fined for smoking on campus. The biggest concern I had before was that smokers would be treated as second-class students. This new policy still contains that attitude, but in a less official way.
I’m not trying to say that smoking isn’t bad for us — it is. But if I want to go base jumping, or operate a baler, or ride a motorcycle, that is my choice. Do those choices affect other people? Sometimes, yes. But until you have definitive proof that me smoking a cigarette in the ambient air poses a serious health risk to students — or that students can’t walk ten feet away from me — then perhaps the UO Health Center and the ASUO should stay the hell off of my rights — and my lungs.