As the spring semester comes to an end, so does the first phase of UM’s three-part effort to create a smoke-free campus.
The first phase, which was implemented this year, restricted smokers to designated areas on campus.
The university’s previous smoking policy only banned smoking inside buildings.
Nonsmoking and smoking designated areas around campus were not in place, but a smoking cessation program, which is still in place now, was available.
According to Gilbert Arias, the vice president of student affairs, the transition has gone over smoothly, with designated smoking areas marked around campus and on-campus maps.
The university has also implemented a Smoking Ambassador program, where designated individuals politely ask smokers who aren’t complying with university policy to put out their cigarettes.
“Almost all the students who smoke outside designated areas are compliant and polite when asked to please follow campus policy,” Arias said.
However, not all students comply with the new policy. On Friday, The Miami Hurricane recorded 31 different people violating the smoking policy during a one-hour observation period at the nonsmoking area outside of the Richter Library and Starbucks.
Ryan, a sophomore, violates the policy and feels that this will not stop students from smoking.
“I think it’s pretty ignorant of the school,” he said. “It is making it harder for anyone who smokes and goes here. I don’t care about the rules.”
Ryan’s last name was withheld to protect his identity.
According to Arias, if a student is caught repeatedly violating the policy, he or she can be referred to the Dean of Students and could be subject to disciplinary action.
This noncompliance can have sometimes serious consequences.
“I have asthma so too much smoke makes it act up,” sophomore Julie Picciones said. “If I’m outside and there’s a lot of smoke around, I start sneezing and could potentially have an asthma attack.”
According to Arias, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of smokers spotted in prohibited areas.
“Since the implementation of the policy there’s been a significant reduction in the amount of people smoking outside designated areas,” he said. “Unfortunately, we can’t be everywhere at once and you’ll always have a percentage of individuals who won’t comply.”
The second phase of the policy, which will be implemented in August 2012, will seek to cut the designated smoking areas in half.
However, students are unsure if this phase will work if smokers are following the current policy.
“There’s a possibility that reducing the number of designated areas could cause less compliance with the policy, but all in all there are more people who don’t smoke than do … there will be more compliance if there are more ambassadors telling people about the policy, “ freshman Blake Slater said.
The university hopes to be completely smoke free by 2013, completing the three-stage transition. A smoke-free initiative for the Coral Gables campus may seem problematic.
“I’m not a chain smoker, so the idea of a smoke-free campus doesn’t bother me,” said Gregory Cosby, assistant to the director and office manager of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I think it’ll be difficult to enforce, because you have a lot of students who smoke. I’ve seen some who will smoke right in front of a no smoking sign.”
The problem of enforcement has a simple solution, according to Arias.
“In order to have more people following the policy we need to all share the responsibility,” he said. “This isn’t the University of Miami’s smoking policy. It’s everyone’s policy, and we all need to work together and encourage each other to comply.”
If you’re a smoker who’s looking to quit, be sure to take advantage of UM’s program.