While the University System of Maryland has approved a measure to establish nonsmoking policies on each of its 12 campuses including the University of Maryland, College Park, students and staff are questioning the enforcement of such a policy and suggesting university officials designate smoking areas on campus rather than establishing a campus-wide ban.
The approved motion by the system’s Board of Regents was unanimously voted for June 19, requiring each campus establish a policy that enforces smoking bans effective June 30, 2013.
Mike Lurie, a USM spokesman, said the policy is a way to ban smoking on university properties and promote smoke-free, healthy campus environments across the system.
“It came down to a consensus among presidents in their communities that it was in their best interest from a health standpoint and from a quality of life, quality of community standpoint to make it more rigorous,” said Lurie, regarding the current policy of prohibiting smoking indoors. “I think the vast majority of students, faculty and staff in this day and age are or are becoming nonsmokers.”
Lurie said the proposal to have a system-wide ban was greatly informed by the positive experiences of the campuses that already have a ban.
Montgomery College, Towson University and Frostburg State University already have implemented smoking bans.
Some students said if there is a ban the university should establish designated smoking area.
“It’s a good idea for those who don’t smoke. It’s better for the environment,” said freshman Symphony Dixon, 18, of New Jersey. “I think it will be hard to enforce. Just like there’s no drinking in the dorms but students do it anyway. I think designated areas would help.”
Grant Dickie, 28, of Takoma Park, a university staff member who works as a web developer for the College of Arts and Humanities, said it can be bothersome to walk through clouds of smoke when entering buildings, noting the steps to McKeldin Library in the center of campus is typically a hotspot for smokers.
“I think it would be pretty good to have [smokers] go in one spot where nobody else gets bothered,” he said. “It’s gross when you walk out of a building and get a wad of smoke in your face.”
Some students who smoke regularly said if the university were to place ash trays a reasonable distance away from building they would stay away from buildings when smoking and there would be no need for a ban.
“It’s not like I want to blow smoke in people’s faces,” said senior philosophy major Greg Schlein, 23, of Harford County, who said if the school is establishing a smoke-free policy there should at least be designated areas. “I don’t think prohibition works. People won’t stop smoking and nobody will be able to enforce it.”
College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows said he is in full support of a campus-wide smoking ban.
“I’m supportive of any kind of measure that protects the health of the students, faculty and staff at the university and certainly second hand smoke and ingesting smoke is not good for you,” Fellows said. “I’m pretty sympathetic to the ban and can understand the concerns of some, but to me, it’s a sensible health measure.”
UM President Wallace D. Loh said he supports the ban and considers it a top priority for the health of students, faculty and staff. He said an administrative board will begin developing penalties for violations and discuss possible designated smoking areas on campus.
“The health risks of smoking are well-documented, and so I fully support the policy developed by the Board of Regents to provide a smoke-free environment on our campus,” he said in a statement.