Staff Editorial: Smoke ban sparks awareness

Students and faculty have returned this fall to a smoke-free campus. On Aug. 1, all designated smoking zones were removed to completely phase out smoking on the Coral Gables campus – the final stage in a three-phase effort that has been underway since 2011.

Nearby, Florida International University became a smoke-free campus in 2011. Miami-Dade College quickly followed suit. It was time for UM to join the effort.

UM’s Gables campus expressed support for the smoke-free initiative in a survey in 2010. Their cries have now been answered, but the question remains: Will the policy be properly enforced?

The medical campus in downtown Miami serves as a model for the initiative in Coral Gables, as it went smoke-free in 2010. Security guards at Miller are trained to ask smokers to put out their cigarettes, but on our campus, this is not part of security guards’ job description. Instead, it’s supposed to be everyone’s responsibility to help enforce the smoke-free policy.

But it doesn’t seem sufficient to ask us as students to tell our peers to stop smoking. It puts us in an uncomfortable situation. Therefore, a more rigid enforcement policy may have to be adopted.

MDC has relied on the help of the college community for enforcement, similar to UM’s strategy. But, according to an article published in MDC’s student newspaper “The Reporter,” many students continued to violate the policy one year after its adoption.

On the other hand, FIU recently introduced a three-step enforcement process. According to an article published in March by FIU’s student media website, smokers who remain on campus are regularly issued warnings, but none had been referred by campus police to University Health Services for a second violation.

UM’s enforcement policy may need to be altered, but it will take time to see if this is necessary. Until then, the university has still made a clear statement to the community: smoking is a lethal behavior, and it harms non-smokers, too.

Two years of designated smoking zones, along with the promotion of a smoking cessation program, were meant to help students and faculty quit smoking and create a healthier campus. But it’s unreasonable to expect everyone on campus to drop the habit. Prevention of secondhand smoke is the greater issue at hand.

Inevitably, there will be a noticeable reduction in the number of people smoking around campus. And that means a noticeable improvement in the quality of our fresh Miami air.

Editorials represent the majority view of  The Miami Hurricane editorial board.