WVU Smoking ban: Is Tobacco-Free really the way to be?

I’m sure majority of us Mountaineers have been oh so blessed with the chance to walk through the infamous cloud of cigarette smoke that surrounds the entrance of Eisland Hall, and other lecture halls alike. It’s like walking through a giant roll of fog on a beautiful morning, except not the slightest bit as refreshing…and may cause cancer.

tobaccofree

Photo used on WVU-issued articles and website pages that refer to the ban.

As stated in a Wellness Newsletter, West Virginia University put a new tobacco-free policy into effect this past summer on Monday, July 1, 2013. The WVU Board of Governors approved this switch to a tobacco-free campus in June 2012, which had formed from a previous decision in 2010 for a tobacco-free policy made by the Health Sciences campus.

“The WVU tobacco-free policy will extend to all premises owned, operated,
leased or occupied by WVU. This includes Milan Puskar Stadium, the HSC PRT
station and WVU property adjacent to the HSC campus. Also, use of tobacco in
personal vehicles while on WVU property is prohibited.” -Newsletter

Below are three different tweets I stumbled upon. Students like Megan and Walter support the smoking ban and feel as if this policy needs to be monitored better by WVU authoritative figures. On the other hand, some people don’t mind and are making funny, yet inappropriate jokes about the tobacco-free policy using the WVU Speak’s hashtag. Yikes, kids these days. That hashtag was actually created for the speak-up event hosted by SGA in October which allowed students to voice their opinions and ideas about the policy, but of course leave it to that kid to add a little unnecessary grunge to the topic.

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Photo Nov 08, 11 09 50 AM

Photo Nov 08, 11 09 16 AM

Like many students have voiced, the ban on smoking hasn’t really made much of a difference whether people smoke on campus or not. As a student myself, I get sick and tired of walking to class only to be basically crop-dusted by the person in front of me with huge puffs of their cigarette smoke; however, some people really don’t  seem to mind it at all. Morgantown residents are seeing things a bit different and noting unfortunate changes due to the passing of this policy. WVU students and staff now bombard resident-owned yards and sidewalks to get their fix in the mornings and in between class, causing some local families daily lives to be altered due to crowds of people producing heavy smoke. This ban is creating more and more issues as the days go by, but can there really be a “fair” line drawn? Smoking bans will forever have pros and cons in the eyes of smokers and non-smokers.

“I’m not saying people can’t smoke, I’m just saying they can’t smoke on campus. I don’t want to take away their personal rights, but we want this to be a healthy campus, and from a grass-roots effort, a majority of people came out and said ‘Please pass this policy.'” –University President James P. Clements tells DA reporter

There clearly needs to be some way to better enforce this policy on these little rebels walking amongst us, or things will never change–well, change 100% at least. Perhaps designated smoking areas should be created so yards aren’t invaded, while the campus sidewalks and buildings are more heavily monitored? Just a thought, though time will only tell how this policy holds up with this wild college town.

If you’re a smoker and want to help implement a healthier environment for our campus, cessation programs are available to employees and students that help you quit at your own pace. Employees are eligible for those programs free of charge (or reimbursable by insurance), while students can enroll in these programs through WellWVU.

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15 thoughts on “WVU Smoking ban: Is Tobacco-Free really the way to be?

  1. Good overview and engaging post. I like the different elements that you added. The Tweets, YouTube video, photo and even the italicized quote makes this an easy to read post. This is really a problem on two fronts, for the restricted smokers and the campus-ites who are still falling victim to rebellious tobacco fiends. I think designated smoking zones is a great idea. I don’t know if there has been a lot of talk on it already, but that would be something interesting to expand on. Either way, I think that if enforcement doesn’t increase it doesn’t matter how many smoking zones we have, people will smoke.

  2. The only change I have noticed from the smoking ban is the lack of ashtrays which has led to increased cigarette butts on the ground. I find the amount on cigarette butts on the ground just as bad as a whiff of smoke every now and again.

  3. I had never thought about the annoyance the smoking ban brought about for Morgantown residents. I always favored designated smoking areas over a ban (the ban seemed like more of a statement than a practical application), and residents’ problems make me think that way even more. I know I wouldn’t want people smoking in or around my yard every day. I wonder if Morgantown residents ever feel like the university is overrunning the town.

  4. I think that the lack of designated smoking areas is a huge problem. As a resident assistant, I have to tell students to get off of property if they’re going to smoke. Problem is, I can’t tell them to simply cross the street because it’s WVU property, too, so they either have to go in someone’s yard or down areas that don’t have a lot of lighting because WVU doesn’t own them.

  5. Though I don’t smoke, second hand smoke really doesn’t bother me at all. I’m fine with smoking restrictions that apply to small, confined areas, but banning smoking in more open areas like streets and parks goes to far, from my perspective.

    Mr. Dickslap’s tweet was hilarious, BTW.

  6. I think there’s widespread misunderstanding about the reasons behind the ban. When the BOG passed this ban, active enforcement wasn’t the intent. Yes, the ban’s language describes consequences for people who smoke on campus, but the University Police won’t bust anybody for smoking.

    The idea was a slow, passive cultural shift. You’ve seen those “tobacco free campus” signs everywhere, right? It’s all psychological – people won’t smoke on campus because they “know it’s not allowed” and people new to campus will see signs saying how we’re “tobacco free” and follow suit. The fear of God keeps people in line, even if there aren’t real consequences.

    Come back here in like five years, after everyone here has only been here for the ban, and you’ll see a totally different campus, I think.

  7. As much as I like the smoking ban I’m still trying to figure out exactly who’s supposed to be enforcing it. I’m an RA and as far as I know myself, along with some other RA’s, are the only ones enforcing the rule by telling students they’re not allowed to smoke on campus. I find that aspect of the whole ban to be a bit frustrating.

  8. I think this was a really compelling and engaging post. It effects not only students, but the employees of WVU and people that pass through campus every day (even if it is just driving through). I was waiting for someone to post about the smoking ban and you did it successfully. I like the tweets that you picked (each other them made a different point), and all the sources and links you use. This post had great information and was informing.

  9. Gotta say, I never really considered the negative aspects of a smoking ban before now; seemed like a unarguable win in my books. Your post really highlights the problems people in the University and Morgantown residents face. To me, designated smoking areas seem like the way to go. I remember going to a university once that had these 15×5 enclosed boxes behind the academic buildings for smoking. Every break you’d see them filled to capacity, swirling with gray smoke. Gross, but at least it’s contained; I can’t remember seeing a single cigarette butt on school property or a smoker outside of the box. Can’t help but think those little boxes would solve a lot of problems if built at WVU.

  10. Very interesting post. I think you did a great job connecting video, tweets and your own voice into the post. Using different facts and opinions mixed together helps the reader connect how people on campus feel. Also, you did a good job on talking about a subject people on campus talk about all the time. I was drawn to this article strictly because I heard people talk about it last week, and wanted to know if there was more to hear from other students.

  11. Very interesting take on this topic. For one I really liked your headline because it definitely shows an angle and not just a report. You also did a great job at incorporating all different types of media. This really keeps the readers engaged while also being informative. I also thought you informing those who might need to seek help to quit smoking was a great way to end the post.

  12. Nice work! At first it seemed like this would be a decent overview of the smoking ban, but the incorporation of the twitter discussion (SweetDaddy Dickslap sounds like a real class act, doesn’t he?) and the Gazette article gives us a bigger picture. Keep an eye on those tweets and other sources – there may be a follow up here.

    One caution: You use your voice fairly well, but be careful that you don’t produce unsubstantiated claims. You write the ban “hasn’t really made much of a difference whether people smoke on campus or not.” Got evidence for that? Your own observation isn’t sufficient – make it clear what’s fact and what’s opinion (and focus on the former).

    • Thank you! I appreciate it. Mr. Dickslap is quite the character, yikes.
      I understand what you mean now by needing to make it very clear that it’s just my opinion–will definitely watch out for that next time!

  13. This is a great article with a ton of great information. There are multiple elements here that make the post appealing to readers. You give good descriptions when you say you are walking to class or if you are trying to enter the Mountainlair or one of the other buildings. Especially by adding that video and the quote from President Clements you add more depth to the post.

  14. Thanks for generating a thoughtful discussion. It’s a complex issue. While putting up smoking shacks or signs designating areas might contain the smoking somewhat – do we really want to invest taxpayer money in buying structures & signs to condone and accommodate addiction? If every smoker were committed to ensuring their habit did not affect others, these bans would be unnecessary – but too many continue to smoke where others breathe and take no responsibility for their own litter. We expect people who walk their dogs to pick up their crap – why not that piece of toxic litter that is the cigarette butt? Most people won’t change until they are forced to do so and then they adjust. Bryan is right in that there is a cultural shift underway and we just need to let it play out. Airline industry offices were once sure they’d go out of business if smoking was banned on flights, and now it’s incomprehensible that it was ever allowed. As smoking in public becomes more difficult and less culturally acceptable, more and more smokers will quit, and more importantly, fewer young people will start up. That’s how tobacco use prevalence will decline in WV ultimately.

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