Students question effectiveness of university smoking policy
Reporting by Jenna Hagan, Mckinsey Hall, Emily Hubbard, Sarah Schaefer, Samantha Townsend, Alyssa Urbanek, and T.R. Varnado—
Though Tarleton’s Campus Rules and Procedures state that all university facilities are “entirely smoke-free,” many feel the location of smoking outposts on campus are creating an environment that is not.
Tarleton State University policy says that, “all University facilities, buildings, and vehicles, regardless of location or ownership, must be entirely smoke-free. This includes all foyers, entryways, classrooms, rest rooms, offices, indoor and outdoor athletic facilities, eating areas and university-owned or leased housing.”
The policy does state that smoking is permitted, however, in “designated areas.” These areas are described as “outside, where ventilation minimizes the effect of the smoke as much as possible,” and that such areas may have signage to designate the areas and must contain extinguishing receptacles and “be located a sufficient distance away from entryways to avoid smoke being drawn into a campus building or facility.”
The policy was put into effect in August of 1997, and it has not been revised since 1998.
The issue arises when smoking outposts are located near entryways, sometimes causing people to puff smoke that others will have to walk through to get inside buildings. Some outposts are set as close as 10 inches to a building’s main entryway,
Texan News Service reporters compiled a map last fall that shows the location of smoking outposts near entryways on the Tarleton campus.
Smoker James Wolf says he has been asked to put out his cigarette, “but my view is if I am in a smoking area or a place that allows me to smoke then how can I be in the wrong? They can move on.”
Nonsmoker Randi Roberts said the effects of secondhand smoke really affect her. “It makes me really congested,” she said. “I think there should be certain smoking areas…not outside the doors of buildings.”
Shelby Alford, a non-smoker, said,“I just don’t like walking through the smoke; it’s nasty and it smells bad.”
Whitney Carpenter said she is offended by getting smoke blown in her face. “I know it is their choice to smoke but it is not my choice to inhale it,” she said. “Smokers need to go somewhere where there are no non-smokers.”
Liberty Riggs says she is strongly opposed to smoking. “I think getting a puff of smoke in my face when I walk out of the building is annoying,” she said. “I think sitting by a person in class who smokes is miserable. It’s hard to focus and makes my head hurt.”
Janice Horak, Assistant Vice President of External Relations, said “Tarleton’s Stephenville campus is not smoke-free. Smoker outposts are located outside but near university buildings. Tarleton will continue to evaluate current policy and rules for potential changes. State law impacts what Texas A&M University System policies and Tarleton’s rules stipulate. Future statewide changes in rule-making may create smoke-free campuses for not only students, but the entire campus community which includes faculty, staff, students, and visitors.”