Student trustee looks to snuff out cigarettes on campus with possible new smoking ban

Students’ ability to light up on campus may soon be stamped out.

Student trustee Hannah Ehrenberg has begun work on an initiative that would add the University to the list of 530 college campuses with smoke-free policies, according to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

Ehrenberg said she is following the example of fellow Big Ten schools: the universities of Iowa and Michigan, both of whom have smoking bans on 100 percent of university property. However, Ehrenberg said she sees an incremental approach as more effective than a total ban all at once, so she is first tackling the Main Quad.

“I would really like to see the Quad (smoke-free), because … there’s always that room to grow,” she said. “If we go too big too quickly, I just see it kind of falling apart.”

The University’s current smoking policy states smoking is not allowed in University buildings and smokers must stand at least 25 feet from building entrances, exits, windows and ventilation intakes, according to the Campus Administrative Manual.

Ehrenberg admitted enforcement is a major issue of smoke-free policies but said she will work with other universities to understand how they implemented and enforced their bans. Currently, Mike DeLorenzo, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, is putting together a report detailing the success of smoke-free initiatives at other campuses and methods of enforcement.

Through his research so far, DeLorenzo said he learned that the University of Michigan’s policy, still in its infancy, is not yet doing any “hard policing” but is gradual in its ticketing approach.

“It’s a matter of changing the culture of the campus rather than just putting a sign up,” DeLorenzo said. “It’s a great idea; it’s just a matter of making sure everyone has input.”

After the report is finished, Ehrenberg said she will officially approach members of the administration. After presenting the initiative to Renee Romano, vice chancellor for student affairs, and Phyllis Wise, chancellor and vice president, Ehrenberg said she hopes to form a committee on the matter that would involve students, faculty and staff.

Though Ehrenberg said she understands the inconvenience of taking a smoke break farther than usual, she said the health of students is chief among her concerns in implementing a smoke-free policy.

“Students are really stressed, and they’re already at a (point) where their (immune system) is down,” she said. “This is just a way that we can eliminate one unhealthy aspect of our campus so no one has to inhale second-hand smoke.”

In addition to a smoking ban, both Ehrenberg and Romano said McKinley Health Center would play an integral part in changing smoking habits on campus. While McKinley already offers several aids to smoking cessation, Ehrenberg said the committee would work with the health center to provide more services to students attempting to quit.

Beth Frasca, health educator at McKinley, works with students trying to quit smoking. Frasca said she uses non-pharmacological methods to help students, but nurse practitioners at McKinley are available when students prefer to use medications, such as nicotine patches and other tobacco cessation aids.

Frasca said a campus-wide smoking ban may encourage many students and staff to quit smoking.

“It’s an interesting concept,” she said. “I’m sure there would be a lot of individuals who’d appreciate it and a lot of individuals who would try to fight it.”

Ehrenberg said that of the students she has spoken with about the initiative, most of the feedback has been positive.

“It’s not a ban to say ‘smoking is bad,’” she said. “It’s a push to say ‘let’s be healthier.’”