Smoking banned in name only

(news) smoking ban

Eleven months after UTSA enacted a tobacco and smoke free campus policy to promote a healthier campus environment, cigarette butts continue to litter the grounds as students smoke in unofficial smoking areas.

Section 9.36 of UTSA’s Handbook of Operating Procedures states “Smoking and the use of tobacco products will be prohibited in and on all University-Owned and Leased Property to include buildings, grounds, resident and housing areas, parking lots and structures, green space, sidewalks, walk ways, as well as personal vehicles on the property.”

However, the ban’s dependence on the compliance of students, staff, contractors, vendors and visitors left students and staff with torn perceptions on its effectiveness and enforcement.

“I think the smoking ban is a good idea,” said smoker and junior psychology major Mary Mooneyham. “It keeps the campus much cleaner. I’m very aware that people that do not smoke get very annoyed and uncomfortable with cigarette smoke being around them and that should be respected.”

Senior English major Jordan Smith feels the ban was a positive change, but acknowledged that it isn’t always enforced. “I actually like it. I can walk around the MH without fighting to breathe through someone else’s smoke.”

“When I do see people smoking,” Smith continued, “it’s usually in the parking lots, or they go to places that aren’t as populated, like the bridge connecting the MH and business building — the one with the Tobacco free campus banner on it.”

However, not all students see the smoking ban as effective. “I feel that the cigarette ban is ineffective in that it isn’t doing its intended purpose,” said senior English major Therese Quinto. “Cigarette smoking is not banned on campus because I know the patio area by the MH building brings together friends and smokers alike.”

Writing composition professor Deanna White has also noticed the preferred unofficial area for smokers and lack of enforcement by UTSA officials. “I come by everyday, right outside of the McKinney building, and there are student’s openly smoking over there and I’ve never seen anyone say anything to them,” White said.

Mooneyham disagreed. “I think it is properly enforced; I’ve personally seen the campus police officers tell people to put out their cigarettes and have seen them go to the unofficial areas and make everyone stop.”

UTSA’s mission and goal of becoming a premier research institution and accepting funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) requires that tobacco free zones be established in the locality of CPRIT projects.

The tobacco and smoke free policy was intended to ensure compliance with CPRIT regulations; however, with unofficial smoking areas in parking lots, behind the Main and Arts building and in between the McKinney Humanities and Business building, UTSA is a tobacco and smoke free campus in name only.

“I don’t think the smoking ban was (created) because they were concerned with student’s health — they were concerned about their perception. However, it’s not being enforced.” White concludes, “If you’re not going to follow the rule that you passed, why do you have it?”