UVUSA recently proposed a campus smoking ban, and though students responded positively, it’s a misguided solution
Michael Houck | Assistant Opinions editor | [email protected]
Photo Credit: Brooke Morrill | @brookemorrill
Whether you like or not, it’s a fact that smoking is harmful to you. Lighting a cigarette can not only lead to cancer, but weakens your whole body. To help reduce these health risks and make UVU a healthier campus, UVU’s Student Association has proposed to make UVU a tobacco-free campus.
Other universities around the country have implemented the same ban on smoking with some success. Indiana University made its campus tobacco-free in 2007 and saw its number of smokers reduce from 16 percent to 12 percent in 2009. It also helps that in a recent survey done by UVUSA, 716 students out of 930 respondents said they agree with making UVU tobacco-free while 214 don’t care or disagree.
It doesn’t seem like a bad idea at first glance. Smoking is dangerous to a person’s health and people around the smoker can experience these harmful effects over time. If smoking is banned on campus those who don’t smoke might not experience the secondhand effects as frequently, and the smokers could be more likely to quit since they wouldn’t be able to smoke on campus.
Unfortunately it is not as black and white as it seems.
One of the problems we run into is the culture of the area. With a large amount of the community being LDS and the religion not approving of smoking, it will be hard to prove that this ban is merely for health reasons. Even though UVUSA has stated this would strictly be a health-oriented ban and not a religious action, it would be hard for smokers to believe this is the case.
Some smokers think this is an attempt to exclude them in an area where many residents already disapprove of their habit. One of these smokers is Graig, who expressed concerns at a recent UVUSA forum that smokers will not simply quit because of this ban. He thinks that smokers will just move to another spot, like parking lots or surrounding neighborhoods.
Utah already has the least amount of smokers per capita, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, with only 12 percent of its population reporting that it smokes. The Utah Indoor Clean Air Act prohibits smoking “in all enclosed indoor places of public access and publicly owned buildings and offices.” Adding a UVU campus ban won’t really stop people from smoking here. Instead, they will just see it as another hoop they have to jump through.
One of the main issues is that by banning tobacco on campus, the school would be pushing the issue away from UVU rather than actually trying to help students and faculty live healthier. Instead of trying to promote this ban, let’s spend more resources to help smokers who want to quit their addiction.
When you type “smoking” in the search bar on the uvu.edu home page, the first result that comes up is the “Smoking Sessation Program.” However, if you click on the link you will notice hyperlinks to other sites and organizations that are designed to help someone quit smoking but no information about anything at UVU. Again this shows that we are pushing this problem away from the school and not actually helping directly. If there are other services offered, they are hard to find.
We all want to make a UVU healthier university as it continues to grow, but this ban would not help in the right way. If we really want to help smokers and prevent secondhand smoke, here are two suggestions: provide on-campus services to help smokers quit and reduce the areas where they can smoke if they are near places frequented by pedestrian traffic.
Let’s actually provide smokers who want to quit with resources to help kick their addiction, and avoid limiting the liberties of those who actively choose to smoke.