By The Editorial Board
Members of USG are currently in the early stages of drafting an initiative to revise the smoking policy on campus. The initiative proposes designating smoking zones, outside of which smoking would be banned. It would also further educate the student population about the dangers of smoking and provide additional resources for students looking to kick the habit.
There are components of this initiative that we support, and some that we feel should be reconsidered. First and foremost, the possibility of designating smoking areas for students would accomplish little. The goal of these designated zones are ultimately to limit secondhand smoke exposure to non-smokers and to reduce cigarettes consumption by smokers. Yet, while genuine, we believe that setting up a select number of designated smoking areas may have additional effects that may not be worth the move.
There are already a number of rules in place keeping students from smoking. The university’s current policy dictates that students may not smoke in any university buildings nor immediately outside them (signs posted near the doors dictate how from away from the building smokers must stand). As the rules stand, smoke should not permeate your bedroom or the lobby of your building. The university, in line with New York State law, also mandates that smoking is prohibited in all buildings and offices, and that it is the responsibility of all faculty, staff and students to observe and enforce the non-smoking policy by way of common courtesy and consideration.
The proposed designated smoking areas would further stigmatize smoking and make smoking students, who often come from cultures in which smoking is far less taboo than in American culture, feel less than welcome. Forcing students into confined zones would enforce the idea that they are not welcome on the same pathways as other students.
Furthermore, the decision to smoke is an independent choice. College-age students should be able to make their own educated decisions about their health. Given this, we appreciate the educational component of the proposal, but we do not think that students who make the adult decision to smoke should have their legal right to smoke infringed upon further than under the current policy. Fordham is not a nanny-state, and we should not try to make it into a “bubble” that is completely different from the real world. Though restricting smoking may make Fordham’s campus more closely resemble other campuses that have gone smoke-free, it will just be more of a departure from the real world.
There are parts of the initiative that are commendable, such as a campaign that would sponsor programs working with Office of Substance Abuse Prevention and Student Support (OSAPSS) and the health center to encourage students to quit smoking and give them the resources and help they would need to do so. Inviting motivational speakers and hanging posters would be an effective way of creating awareness of the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke.
Another commendable part of the initiative is a student survey that will soon be distributed. While we have our viewpoint, we believe that student input is essential in moving forward with the initiative.
While the initiative has not been passed, a policy such as a smoking ban will affect many students and will have ripple effects throughout the campus community. Taking in comments and opinions before moving forward are essential parts of the decision making process.