Clearing the smoke
Towson is officially smoke free, and some students and faculty may take this time to cut back or even kick the habit.
Vice president for student affairs Deb Moriarty said she thinks the implementation is going well so far.
“One of the things we did right … is we spent a lot of time working on it and talking to people on campus,” she said. “We’ve been working three years on this, so it’s not like we surprised everybody. We also got a lot of input about it.”
Those students and faculty members who do not wish to quit will have to relocate to the sidewalks surrounding campus for their breaks. If they do not move to the designated smoking areas, they will be issued a fine of $75 per offense.
Safe Management officials in red shirts will monitor the campus and will issue the citations to those who are violating the policy. There is also an anonymous online reporting system where people can report violations.
“I think the policy will work because of the fines,” freshman Maxine Reyer said. “Students don’t have the money to pay the fines.”
Reyer doesn’t smoke, but has friends who do. She thinks there should be designated areas on campus for smokers to do so.
“I think at the corners of campus, like by shuttle stops, students should be able to smoke,” Reyer said.
Director of health services Jane Halpern said she believes going to school at a smoke-free campus will be hard for smokers, but she hopes that everyone will respect the clean-air rule.
“Faculty and staff who smoke will have the hardest time with this new policy. I suspect they may still try to get out to the edge of campus to smoke or smoke in their cars,” Halpern said. “Visitors will probably be compliant if the signage is good and they are here for short periods of time. The hardest part will be obeying the desire to smoke outside at a game or tailgate event.”
Freshman Gabrielle Maas said she is unsure whether or not the policy will work because she’s already seen students smoking on campus.
Halpern said statistics show that few students at Towson smoke, and the majority of the smokers on campus are more social smokers.
“I think students will generally react positively,” Halpern said. “We have seen through health surveys done on campus every couple of years that only about five to six percent of students smoke on a regular, daily basis and almost two-thirds have never smoked.”
Senior Lauren Lee said students who want to smoke should be able to do so when they are on campus.
“It’s by far the dumbest policy Towson has put into effect since I started here,” Lee said. “And the hired ‘smoke police’ are a waste of funds.”
Health promotion and education services coordinator Kate Reeder said there is a debate on whether or not students who live in the dorms are having their rights taken away by being told they cannot smoke where they live.
However, Reeder also said that students who choose not to smoke should also have the right to breathe clean air when they are walking in and out of their dorms. She said the campus is not taking away anyone’s right to smoke because they are not telling anyone they have to quit smoking, only that they are not allowed to do it in certain areas.
Moriarty said she is not aware of any student who hasn’t been compliant.
“Many of the folks who we’ve talked to just weren’t aware of the new policy,” she said.
Other students said the policy is long overdue.
“It’s America and people should have the right to smoke,” senior English major Corey Baker said. “But when I walk out of a building, there’s a cloud of smoke. It’s an inconvenience, and not being a smoker I think it’s disgusting. I’m really glad they have a policy.”
Another debate with the smoke-free policy is over Bill Bateman’s Bistro, a restaurant located in the 7800 York Road building that is a part of campus. Customers at the bar and restaurant are not able to step outside and smoke anymore.
Reeder said that after the Clean Indoor Air Act, which made it illegal to smoke inside bars or restaurants, “research indicates that establishments did not experience a decline in business due to the ban, so I doubt that people will stop going [to Bateman’s] because of this.”
For students and faculty members who wish to quit smoking, the Dowell Health Center is offering services as a support system. Reeder is in charge of the smoking cessation services, and like Halpern, she believes that people will take advantage of this new rule and quit.
“Some people will want to quit as a result of this policy, so we want to make sure that we have programs and services to support them,” Reeder said.