Survey sparks smoke-free initiative

University of Miami graduate students smoke their cigarettes while socalizing on campus. "It's segregation. We smoke outside, it's not like it's inside a classroom or our offices. We're not harming anyone," says Melyssa. Natalie Edgar//The Miami Hurricane

Almost a year after the Miller School of Medicine’s campus went smoke-free, the Coral Gables campus is rolling out a new plan to restrict smokers to designated areas.

The new initiative, which has yet to be named, will create designated smoking areas around the campus and will incorporate educational programs about the various smoke-free initiatives on campus.

It will also increase the resources available for students and faculty who wish to quit. The policy will not affect the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science campus.

“We want to minimize exposure to secondhand smoke and provide resources to students if they choose to not smoke,” said Gilbert Arias, assistant vice president for student affairs. “Our purpose is to make the campus safer.”

The previous policy banned smoking in all buildings and within 25 feet of the residential colleges and the Herbert Wellness Center.

The new initiative was inspired by a survey created by a committee of undergraduate, graduate and law students.

“I was sitting on the campus smoking research committee, and the committee was talking about what it thought students wanted,” said Ryan Aquilina, last year’s SG press secretary and creator of the survey. “So I thought, why don’t we find out what they actually want?”

More than 2,000 students responded to the survey, with the majority in favor of creating designated smoking areas. The faculty senate also approved the program.

“It was a joint effort,” Arias said.

Recently, a committee consisting of undergraduate, graduate and law students met to select the designated smoking areas. These areas will be evaluated throughout the course of the semester to determine their effectiveness.

“We chose areas that were close to buildings and out of regular traffic,” Arias said. “We have worked with facilities to put benches and chairs, if they don’t already exist, and ashtrays.”

The ashtrays are perched atop slender, silver poles that mimic the shape of cigarettes.

“It looks like a smoker’s pole,” Arias said. “It’s not unsightly.”

Over the course of the next years, the number of designated areas will slowly shrink until the campus is completely smoke-free. Arias hopes to create a league of smoke-free ambassadors to tackle enforcement.

The program will officially be launched on Sept. 1 with a kickoff on the Rock and the release of a website promoting the smoke-free policy and listing the resources available to students and faculty looking to quit.