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Marshall's smoking ban leaves students with questions

On September 18, 2013

Marshall University’s recent ban on smoking has left some students with questions as to how it will affect students on campus.

Taking part in a tobacco-free campus movement seen around the country, Marshall followed in those footsteps and did the same.

From bans on smoking around campus to all university owned grounds, even the parking garages, it is clear that smoking will not be tolerated. However, in all the hype over a smoking free campus, it has yet to be stated where, if any place, students can still light up.

In the push to be tobacco-free, colleges around the country have made campus-wide initiatives to ban tobacco. Nearly 1,200 campuses nationwide either ban smoking or ban all tobacco products. That number grew from only 530 campuses two years ago.

Student Health Education Programs (SHEP) has spearheaded the effort to make Marshall a tobacco-free campus since 2008 when they made a small step in the initiative by successfully banning tobacco use in residence halls.

Now, Marshall’s policy specifically bans all tobacco on all university property. This includes electronic cigarettes as well and applies to all faculty, staff, students, vendors and visitors.

Generally, the response on campus has been overwhelmingly positive to the ban on tobacco. From the perks of helping clean up the environment to the glaring health benefits, many students agree that this was a wise move by the university.

“I think this is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Dr. Kane Maiers, Paul Ambrose Health Policy Fellow at Cabell Huntington Hospital. “By banning smoking on campus, it makes it inconvenient for non-smokers to start smoking too.”

Statistics show life-long smoking habits start during the years students are in college.

“Ninety-nine percent of smokers started before the age of 26, and making it increasingly inconvenient to smoke on campus will only further deter people from doing it,” Maiers said.

In addition to deterring students from smoking to begin with, it will also improve the quality of health for students who used to suffer from secondhand smoke.

“The Surgeon General’s Report in 2012 officially listed secondhand smoke as a carcinogen,” Maiers said. “Naturally, secondhand smoke is more intense because it is inhaled without first passing through a filter like it is when someone is smoking a cigarette.”
Secondhand smoke is more dangerous than some think and are aware of.

“Non-smokers who are continually exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of getting lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent,” Maiers said. “I don’t expect the ban to be rigorously enforced, but the ban will back anyone up who approaches someone violating the ban.”

Despite the obvious health benefits for both smoking and non-smoking students, others disagree with the ban.

In all the attention surrounding the positive aspects of the ban, it has been unclear to students who choose to smoke where they are permitted to do so.

This vague communication between university policy makers and smoking students has left some weary of the ban.

“We were told this year that there was a new smoking ban on campus, which I found pretty annoying, and they didn’t tell us where we were allowed to do it,” said Joshua Frame, Marshall sophomore.

Frame also lives on campus and finds it inconvenient to have to leave campus to enjoy a cigarette.

“I have to walk all the way to very end of campus to smoke,” Frame said.

As stated in Marshall’s policy against tobacco, electronic cigarettes are also banned.

“I also don’t get why they banned electronic cigarettes, they don’t create secondhand smoke and are still environmentally safe because they only produce water vapor,” Frame said.

With all the attention given to the ban itself, it has yet to be seen how and who will enforce this ban.

This aspect alone has left some students skeptical about how strict the ban will be and raised questions about the effectiveness of the enforcement.

“Even though I agree with the ban and like the idea of a tobacco-free campus, I think its unrealistic to think it can be enforced effectively,” said Elaine Sambuco, Marshall senior. “We don’t have the man-power to constantly monitor smokers and still have the ability to respond to more serious crimes.”

Carissa Janczewski can be contacted at janczewski@marshall.edu.

 

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