Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Students and faculty debate over tobacco ban

With the January smoking ban quickly approaching, students can't seem to break the habit.
Melissa Smith/ The Free Press
With the January smoking ban quickly approaching, students can't seem to break the habit.

Posted on September 17, 2012 in Uncategorized
By Brian Saxton

In January USM will begin taking the initial steps in making its campuses Tobacco-free. There will be much debate on campus in the few short months that tobacco users can freely smoke, dip or chew on campus property.
A poll taken back in 2010 by the USM Tobacco Policy Committee showed that a majority of students, faculty and staff members favor the ban, because it will eliminate hazardous exposure to secondhand smoke and tobacco products on campus. President Theo Kalikow says that it’s about the concern for the public’s health, referring to the dangerous effects of secondhand tobacco usage.
USM’s Bob Caswell, executive director of public affairs, says that it’s not about making people quit but about eliminating the usage on campus.
Since as early as 2002, USM has been working towards a healthier working and living environment on campus. From then on, more than 770 colleges and universities have added a smoke free policy. From the University of Maine system, Orono and Farmington have already added a ban. In January of 2013, USM and the university of Maine Augusta will adopt the policy. Suzanne Roy, health promotion manager says that within the year of 2013, the remaining three campuses are planning to add the policy.
“USM has assumed responsibility to its students, faculty and staff, to provide a safe and healthy environment to live, learn and work. Research continues to show that tobacco use in general, in addition to the effects of secondhand smoke, constitutes a significant health hazard. Tobacco-free policies remove needless exposure to preventable tobacco related illness.” Roy said.
Questions remain about how the policy will be enforced.

“The University’s role is to provide education, resources and support reminders, for successful implementation of the tobacco-free policy.” Roy says. Officials were vague when responding to questions about enforcement of the policy.
In a statement Roy said repeat offenders will be subject to disciplinary procedures that will be used as necessary and appropriate for the violations. Any students with any questions about the enforcement can contact the Office of Community Standards. Employees can contact the Department of Human Resources.
The current smoking policy allows smoking only in the designated areas, but that policy is seen as a failure. “Most campuses find that banning tobacco is much more effective…designated areas are much harder to keep track of.” Caswell said. People continue to smoke outside designated areas, regardless of signs posted clearly stating the areas.
On a walk around campus groups of people can be seen hanging out and smoking. So will the ban affect USM?

Roy doesn’t think so.

“The majority of the campus community won’t have to alter habits when the campus goes tobacco-free.” In the colleges that have already enacted a ban on tobacco, reports show that it has been easier to observe than a tobacco policy that allows smoking only in designated areas.
The Surgeon General’s Report from 2012 stated that tobacco usage among 18-25 year olds is the highest, where nine out of ten smokers started by the time they were 18. The report went on to say that 70 percent of smokers in this age group have tried to stop tobacco usage.

“A tobacco-free campus policy provides an environment that is conducive and supportive of tobacco cessation,” says Roy.

In the state of Maine, less than 19 percent of adults use tobacco products.

The report also stated that tobacco-free policies have been proven to decrease the current smoking rates among students and decrease the amount of cigarettes used by those who will continue to smoke.  They can also make a positive influence on the perceptions of peer smoking and change social norms around tobacco use while increasing favorable attitudes towards the regulation of tobacco.
Roy added, “The focus of the tobacco-free policy is on tobacco and not the tobacco user. The choice to use or not use tobacco products is left up to each individual. The Tobacco-free policy is being adopted to remove exposure to, and use of tobacco products on all USM campus grounds,” Roy said in a statement, reffering to the dangerous effects of secondhand tobacco usage.

USM’s Bob Caswell, executive director of public affairs, says that it’s not about making people quit but about eliminating the usage on campus.

Since as early as 2002,  more than 770 colleges and universities have added a smoke free policy. From the University of Maine system, Orono and Farmington have already added a ban. In January of 2013, USM and the university of Maine Augusta will adopt the policy as well. Suzanne Roy, health promotion manager says that within the year of 2013, the remaining three campuses are planning to add the policy.

“USM has assumed responsibility to its students, faculty and staff, to provide a safe and healthy environment to live, learn and work. Research continues to show that tobacco use in general, in addition to the effects of secondhand smoke, constitutes a significant health hazard. Tobacco-free policies remove needless exposure to preventable tobacco related illness.” Roy said.

Questions remain about how the policy will be enforced? “The University’s role is to provide education, resources and support reminders, for successful implementation of the tobacco-free policy.” Roy says. Officials were vague when responding to questions about enforcement of the policy.

In a statement Roy said repeat offenders will be subject to disciplinary procedures that will be used as necessary and appropriate for the violations. Any students with any questions about the enforcement can contact the Office of Community Standards. Employees can contact the Department of Human Resources.

The current smoking policy allows smoking only in the designated areas, but that policy is seen as a failure. “Most campuses find that banning tobacco is much more effective…designated areas are much harder to keep track of.” Caswell said. People continue to smoke outside designated areas, regardless of signs posted clearly stating the areas.

“The majority of the campus community won’t have to alter habits when the campus goes tobacco-free,” Roy said.

In the colleges that have already enacted a ban on tobacco, reports show that it has been easier to observe than a tobacco policy that allows smoking only in designated areas.

The Surgeon General’s Report from 2012 stated that tobacco usage among 18-25 year olds is the highest, where 9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by the time they turned 18. The report went on to say that 70% of smokers in this age group have tried to stop tobacco usage. “A tobacco-free campus policy provides an environment that is conducive and supportive of tobacco cessation,” says Roy. In the state of Maine, less than 19% of adults use tobacco products.

Tobacco-free policies have been proven to decrease the current smoking rates among students and decrease the amount of cigarettes consumed by those who will continue to smoke.  They can also make a positive influence on the perceptions of peer smoking and change social norms around tobacco use while increasing favorable attitudes towards the regulation of tobacco.

Roy added, “the focus of the tobacco-free policy is on tobacco and not the tobacco user. The choice to use or not use tobacco products is left up to each individual. The Tobacco-free policy is being adopted to remove exposure to, and use of tobacco products on all USM campus grounds.”

 

  • Louise Cyr

    With no disrespect-this is a load of BS. I attend LAC and was never made aware of this “poll”. I recently finished a petition in which 75% of the signatures were from non-smokers supporting the smokers rights. This led to a public forum. Shame on you for indicating that you are not trying to imply we impose our tobacco use on others. The designated smoking areas are respected and used. Here is my question-How can you ethically justify advertising a smoke free institutions and continue to enroll tobacco users. The big issue seems to revolve around second and third hand exposure. If that is the case-what is the difference between a tobacco user smoking in a designated area outdoors or having to get in their car and leave the property to smoke a couple cigarettes-return and enter the building to attend class. Sorry-you cannot ethically justify it. Shame on you! If you want to advertise the safety of exposure-you need to change your enrollment application. The first question to the applicant should be-Are you a tobacco user???? If they reply yes, then I guess you should tell them to take their money elsewhere because you cannot expose your non smokers to the so called dangers of second/third hand smoke!!!!! Oh, and by the way, if your campus experiences the issue of non-compliance of the designated areas-then by all mean enforce a penalty.
    Seriously, if someone gets an OUI-does every alcohol user pay the price-or just the individual not abiding by the rules. This is why this whole 100% smoke free campus is BS, and cannot be ETHICALLY JUSTIFIED.

  • like most higher education systems, will ban almost anything. So much for broadening your horizons….

    http://www.mainecarry.com

  • Interval

    What most people are missing is that this is a Tobacco ban, not just a smoking ban, which means that things that don’t affect the health of others like dip and snuff are being banned as well. I’ve heard people complain quite a bit about how unpleasant it is to watch someone spit while using dip, but it’s outside and harmless. If anything it acts as a pesticide. If the spitting is too much of an unpleasantness then I demand the school ban the brushing of teeth because the amount of leftover toothpaste and plaque in bathrooms is intolerable.More seriously though, it’s not up to the University to tell us what’s best for us–we know, we’re choosing what we want to do with that knowledge, and that’s where USM’s interference needs to end. We’re paying huge amounts of money to come here to learn and get a degree, not to have a health coach. If I wanted repeated health lessons, I’d watch public access or join a kvetching circle.I also think that the complaint of secondhand smoke as being bad is a poor excuse for banning tobacco products, mostly because there are people being paid to stop smokers from smoking away from the designated areas and the school has opted to ban the product instead of firing someone who isn’t doing their job, but also because I don’t hear any battle cry for eliminating high sodium from the cafeteria. I have a history on both sides of my family with high blood pressure and heart disease and have the former myself, but I’m not trying to kick Aramark off because most of their food is high in salt. I simply don’t eat that food, in the same way that everyone complaining about smoke can simply walk around. The amount of carcinogenic or infectious particulates in the air is already ridiculous, so the argument can’t be made that it’s making the air safer–in comparison to what? Car exhaust, whooping cough and body odor?This ban won’t last, and if it does, it won’t be followed and it’ll be as poorly enforced as the other policies on campus.

  • Interval

    What most people are missing is that this is a Tobacco ban, not just a smoking ban, which means that things that don’t affect the health of others like dip and snuff are being banned as well. 

    I’ve heard people complain quite a bit about how unpleasant it is to watch someone spit while using dip, but it’s outside and harmless. If anything it acts as a pesticide. If the spitting is too much of an unpleasantness then I demand the school ban the brushing of teeth because the amount of leftover toothpaste and plaque in bathrooms is intolerable.

    More seriously though, it’s not up to the University to tell us what’s best for us–we know, we’re choosing what we want to do with that knowledge, and that’s where USM’s interference needs to end. We’re paying huge amounts of money to come here to learn and get a degree, not to have a health coach. If I wanted repeated health lessons, I’d watch public access or join a kvetching circle.

    I also think that the complaint of secondhand smoke as being bad is a poor excuse for banning tobacco products, mostly because there are people being paid to stop smokers from smoking away from the designated areas and the school has opted to ban the product instead of firing someone who isn’t doing their job, but also because I don’t hear any battle cry for eliminating high sodium from the cafeteria. I have a history on both sides of my family with high blood pressure and heart disease and have the former myself, but I’m not trying to kick Aramark off because most of their food is high in salt. I simply don’t eat that food, in the same way that everyone complaining about smoke can simply walk around. The amount of carcinogenic or infectious particulates in the air is already ridiculous, so the argument can’t be made that it’s making the air safer–in comparison to what? Car exhaust, whooping cough and body odor?

    This ban won’t last, and if it does, it won’t be followed and it’ll be as poorly enforced as the other policies on campus.

  • Scott

    That sounds like my workplace, which has banned tobacco use on the property.

    Instead of a few dozen (yes, I work with a lot of smokers) cigarettes being lit up in a downwind corner of the parking lot we now have a few dozen cars chugging out of the parking lot at every break.  Also, instead of butts being contained to a can, they are strewn all over both sides of the road.

    I’m not a scientist, but I have a pretty good guess at which scenario causes more harmful pollution that the rest of us are exposed to.

  • Anonymous

    This is like telling underage college students to drink.. It’s not ever going to work.
    My Maine professor breaks our 2 1/2 hour class so the smokers can have a break.

  • Regular Joe

    Sure, but that’s not your decision.  Besides, it’s not just students who use tobacco on campus.

  • Anonymous

    At the cost of approximatly $200 plus or minus a month to smoke. I wonder how college kids can afford to support their habit.

    $2400 a year could sure buy more useful things I would think.

  • caulfield

    A smoking ban does NOT stop people from smoking. What it does, is jjust encourage them to smoke behind a building or bush. As an employee at UMAINE I see this everyday. Where once there were ashtrays, there is now ground covered with cig butts. Way to go UMAINE…the sensible thing for them to do was create smoking areas on campus. IT WONT stop smoking. And I agree with the posts on individual regulation and control, it will not work.

  • Regular Joe

    I am sure that by now, in 2012, everyone knows what the danger of cigarette smoke is to their health, as well as chewing tobacco.  But in a free society, it is our decision to use such legal products and the university is wrong to demonize the behavior of a small percentage of its community members based on a legal activity, that, by that way, gives a LOT of money to the state in the way of taxes.

  • Regular Joe

    Streets and sidewalks are public property, so anyone can be on that street.  In any case, the university provides jobs for people in the area, and those people who live in the city pay taxes are their property.  I am not sure, though, that a home owner can make a decision as to whether or not the university can be there.
    What about the people who drive cars on the street in front of those houses?  Are the home owners upset with them? Automobiles are FAR worse polluters than cigarette smokers.

  • Garciadonnajoy

    i wish many of the users of tobacco know what are the effect of it in our health

  • Did anyone ask the neighbors who will have the smokers in front of their house and are nice enough to allow an entity that pays no property tax to remain in their neighborhood?

  • Jimboner

    Just another example of Authoritarianism. The sheeple of America not paying attention as their lives are being controlled more and more by people who “know best.” 

  • Regular Joe

    It’s unfortunate that this piece seems to be a one-sided view of the issue in support of the university’s position.  Interviews with the long-time employees who take cigarette breaks as a way to relieve the stress of working in this insecure job-climate as well as with students who spend hours every night writing and studying and find a cigarette break to be a good way for them to relax would have been a good way to show the other side.

    This story could have been written a few years back about the UMaine Orono ban-talking about the university’s responsibility to provide a healthy environment for the people there and talking about the effects of second-hand smoke.  What about the effects on others of chewing tobacco?  What about other unhealthy activities that occur on campus, such as eating foods with high fat content or jaywalking?  There’s much air pollution in the parking lots-more than one would encounter from the occasional exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke.  

    These tobacco bans (NOT just smoking bans) are part of a long term strategy to regulate our behavior and to “encourage” us to live our lives in a way that the institutions think we should.  Couple that with RiseUP, a program that is incredibly invasive that requires employees to provide personal medical information to a third party to monitor us, the university system is overstepping its bounds.  We are there to study and go to work-make programs to quit smoking and eat right available, but, ultimately, the adults know and the kids need to learn that their health is THERE responsibility.  Stop with the babying.

  • Joanna

    To everyone engaged in this discussion, bravo!  This can be such a challenging process. I commend you for being a part of it, wherever you stand. I’d like to talk with the students who are opposed to this change.  As a long-time smoker and buttkicker, I get it, intimately.