Campus tobacco ban takes effect

Mina Kaji, Contributing Writer

Tulane University’s campus officially became tobacco-free on Aug. 1. The policy applies to all tobacco products, including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars and electronic cigarettes. 

Tulane created designated smoking areas in 2008 to confine smoking to fewer parts of campus. 

“We had been working on that policy for the last four years, and it became very apparent that the old policy was just not effective,” Director of Student Health Scott Tims said. “We needed to do something different to protect students who were negatively affected by tobacco users.”

Tims said he hopes this tobacco ban will help people on campus who struggle with asthma and similar health issues.

“Eliminating smoking on the confines of campus will improve our students’ ability to function,” Tims said. “People can go to class without dodging the smoke. Many students with asthma have already thanked us for this change.”

In 2013, the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion worked with several different student groups and the faculty senate to construct this new policy. Tulane students and organizations such as Undergraduate Student Government helped co-lead the initiative. 

“We had students who not only helped write the policy but also gave us feedback about the language and how it should be drafted,” Tims said. “These students were instrumental in providing support.”

Though tobacco is banned on campus, students can still walk to a nearby street to use tobacco products. 

“This policy is not meant to punish people who choose to use tobacco,” Tims said.

UNICCO employee Eric Arringtons said as a smoker, he did not agree with the ban.

“I don’t like it,” Arringtons said. “I can understand why it is the way it is, though.”

Sophomore Emily Edwards expressed delight at the policy change.

“It’s not fair for my health to be put at risk by someone else’s decision to contaminate it,” Edwards said. “Also I think it will seriously decrease the amount of smokers in the student population.”

Tulane’s decision to create a tobacco-free campus has inspired other universities to follow suit. Three weeks after Tulane passed the Tobacco and Smoke Free Community Policy, the state of Louisiana decided to adopt it for all state universities. 

“It’s very interesting that we were slightly ahead of them with this change,” Tims said. “Loyola is also in the process of adopting a similar policy.”

If this policy is violated, faculty and staff can be reported to their supervisors. If students are caught using tobacco products, they could be punished through student conduct. Starting Jan. 1, the Tulane University Police Department can start issuing tickets and fining people who use tobacco on campus.

“My goal is that we do not have to take it that level,” Tims said. “This is a policy we can all embrace, and we’ve tried to make it easy to follow.”

TUPD Superintendent Jon Barnwell said he shares a similar viewpoint about issuing tickets.

“My biggest concern was I did not want to become the smoking police,” Barnwell said. “Fines are more for our faculty and staff, not for our students.”

If there is a consistent problem with an area, anyone on campus can fill out a report and the TUPD will get involved.

“Officers will sweep [during] the designated time frames and investigate if people continuously disobey the rules,” Barnwell said.

TheWELL posted many announcements to raise awareness of the campus-wide ban.

“We’ve tried to create a very positive message,” Tims said. “It’s really about informing people of the policy.”

TheWELL conducts a National College Health Assessment every two years on campus. Many students reported in 2012 that they used tobacco occasionally but less than 10 percent used tobacco once a month. Only 2 to 3 percent of students reported using tobacco products daily.

“In the grand scheme of things the people who smoke everyday is very, very small,” Tims said.