Students Debate a Possible Smoking Ban on Campus

Doug McKenney, a junior at McDaniel College steps outside between classes every now and then and lights a cigarette. The smoke of his Camel Turkish Royal may upset some, but to him this is a calming moment in the middle of a hectic and busy day of classes, homework, and a part time job as a waiter.

However, this routine is something he and other students may not be able to do for long. McDaniel College could potentially to join a growing list of campuses across the country that have adopted tobacco-free policies.

“It wouldn’t be a smart move,” said McKenney. “The problem could be solved with fines or areas.”

Senior Tom Cartaxo had similar opinions. “Complete prohibition would definitely not work. I’m sure there’s a more effective solution, like a designated [smoking] area. Anyone who wouldn’t be willing to use well-placed smoking areas is likely the kind of person who would ignore prohibition.”

Though no policy has been put in place at the moment, the school did hold a forum last semester to “gauge interest in the topic,” said McDaniel President Roger Casey in an email. The discussion was held as the result of vocalized concerns from students.

McKenney, who attended the event, believes that both smokers and non-smokers made convincing arguments.

“Afterwards, we became a little more conscious of where we threw our butts and how close we were to doors.”

Gerl saw this as a positive outcome as well: “[the] issue of respect came out of it. To me, that’s limitless.

I think it’s a personal choice. What important is that people don’t feel impacted.”

Such policies are not uncommon these days; there are at least 648 entirely smoke-free college campuses across the country according to a document found on the National Non-Smoker’s Rights Foundation’s website. Ten of these alone are in Maryland, including Salisbury University, Carroll Community College and Towson University, the first four year public institution to do so in the state.

Carroll’s policy went into effect Jan. 2, 2009 and was approved by the school’s board of trustees back in September 2008.

“Carroll Community College is taking an important step toward a healthier campus by implementing this new policy,” said College President Faye Pappalardo in a press release regarding the issue.

Carol Colb, the school’s Director of Campus Wellness, stressed that the health of students and faculty was the main reason for the ban.

With guidance from Hartford Community College, the school was able to create such a policy through work with Carroll’s Student Government and Student Council. Though they were not part of the actual decision, these groups were, according to Colb, heavily involved in communication regarding the issue.

Gerl believes that McDaniel would follow a similar path should the school work towards a ban.

“I would think we would want some good, healthy discussions. We would want to talk to people at other schools. How did they do it? What were the challenges? What did you learn?”

Carroll’s ban covers all areas of the school’s campus, including the walkways outside of buildings and even the parking lots and nearby sports fields. If  McDaniel were to adopt a similar policy, then smokers would have to travel off-campus in order to smoke. Despite this, the students at Carroll have largely accepted the policy, according to that school’s administrators.

“The policy has been generally well received,” said Carroll Administrator Alan Schuman. “There are some students and visitors who disagree, but we have had no major problems.”

Carroll strictly enforces its rule in order to guarantee that smoking and use of other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco cease. As described on its website, the college’s security staff follows a set of procedures when confronting somebody violating the order, whether it’s a student, visitor, or faculty member.

For students and visitors caught using tobacco, security officers will approach the individual and request that they put out the cigarette, and provide them with a card which outlines the school’s policy and where they can turn for quitting assistance. Should the person refuse, he or she is asked to leave.

Faculty members are also asked to extinguish their butts, and they receive the same information card. However, a written warning will be provided to the employee’s supervisor as well as the Human Resources department, which can consider further punishment.

McKenney offers a final warning to those in support of banning smoking: “Has anyone ever seen nicotine deprived students?”