DSU smoking ban effectiveness questioned

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There are signs around campus, memos in the monthly newsletters, and reminders in the syllabi, but smoking is still seen on campus.

Dixie State University’s smoking ban went into effect three years ago “to provide and promote a healthy and productive working and learning environment,” according to the policy formally outlining the ban.

“I’m not really aware of [the smoking ban] while on campus,” said Hannah Schneidman, a freshman communication major from Las Vegas.

The smoking ban prohibits “tobacco, cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and other vaporizing devices designed to function like electronic cigarettes, cigars, oral or smokeless tobacco, and nasal tobacco,” according to section 3.3 of the written policy, ruling out not only cigarettes and cigars, but hookah, vape pens and electronic cigarettes.

“The push to become a tobacco free-campus was a student initiative that was spearheaded in response to national trends and to DSU students who were requesting a healthier campus environment and one with cleaner air,” said Dean of Students Del Beatty.

Schneidman said although she agrees with the idea of banning cigarettes, she doesn’t think banning vaping is helping anyone.

“Vaping is a great way for people to stop smoking cigarettes,” Schneidman said. “It’s a substitute for smoking cigarettes, and it doesn’t do any harm to anyone because it’s mostly water vapor.”

Patrick Weeks, a freshman theater major from Las Vegas, agrees the ban is beneficial for most students on campus.

“I am extremely grateful for the smoking ban on campus,” Weeks said. “If I’m out and about and see someone who is smoking along the path that I am taking, I will go as far as to block my [nose and mouth] or even to hold my breath.”

Weeks said he is constantly aware of the smoking ban while on campus, unlike Schneidman, because of the way he approaches social situations.

“If I pass someone that I don’t know, I don’t know if they smoke,” Weeks said. “It makes me wonder if they do.”

Although she has not seen many people around campus smoking, she knows it still happens, Schneidman said.

“I haven’t personally seen people smoking cigarettes on campus, but I have seen people vape, and I don’t believe that should really be considered abusing the ban,” Schneidman said.

DSU was only the first public university in Utah to implement a “smoking ban,” the first of which was Brigham Young University. There are about 1,757 smoke-free campuses around the nation as of Jan. 2, 2017. The number of smoke-free campuses nationwide has grown by over 1,311 since October of 2010.

Within the written policy, it reads that students found in violation of the ban multiple times will be fined or referred to a program meant to help them quit smoking. The program is offered through the Health and Wellness Center and is Faculty or staff found in similar situations will be sent to their supervisors. Since the establishment of the ban, there have been no formal punishments, Beatty said.

“Usually, if someone is smoking on campus, they are kindly reminded we are a smoke- and tobacco-free school, and asked to comply,” Beatty said. “So far, everyone has been very compliant.”

The policy also outlines a program sponsored by the Health and Wellness Center that gives students the opportunity to quit smoking. The center offers students with counseling, referrals, patches and similar methods of cutting back on tobacco and nicotine.

“[Establishing the policies and accompanying programs] was a long and hard process, but I think one that was well worth the fight as we try to promote health and healthy living for our student body,” Beatty said.