You’re on your way to class, soaking in the radiance of the South Florida sun and inhaling the refreshing breeze, when suddenly you smell an odor disseminating through the air. Ahead of you is someone puffing a cigarette.
The university put into place a smoke-free policy on Aug. 1 in order to “promote a healthy environment” on our college campus.
Therefore, this person is either oblivious to the smoke-free policy or blatantly not abiding by it. I don’t know which is worse: someone inattentive to the signs hanging around campus, or someone with a total disregard for them.
Whatever the case may be, this problem points to a need for increased educational awareness and policy enforcement.
Currently, there are more than 500 other college campuses across the nation with similar smoke-free or tobacco-free policies. Gathering insight from these universities about their implementation and enforcement would come in handy.
Increased educational awareness begins at the grassroots level. It’s important to give courteous reminders to any individual who violates the policy, because even with the university’s smoke-free policy in place, smoking still blatantly occurs on our campus.
This is exemplified by the protest held this past Friday in opposition to the smoke-free policy. However, I find that there is little to protest about, as several public opinion polls across the nation show support for smoking restrictions in order to protect the interests of public health.
Although there may be those smoking zealots who still refuse to abide by the rules, educational initiatives addressing the issue of smoking – which the CDC points to as the No. 1 cause of preventable death – will hopefully change the opinions of the minority who still smoke
But beyond this grassroots approach, there needs to be better enforcement. At smoke-free New York University, students who violate the policy are subject to disciplinary action through a judicial process.
Additionally, the University of Florida not only has the Dean of Students Office touch base with violators, but also has its Health Promotion Office help them quit smoking. At Cornell College in Iowa, there are even financial sanctions for repeat offenders.
Currently, our university has put in place this new policy with some educational awareness, but a dearth of enforcement.
The university administration took the bold step of declaring the campus smoke-free. Now, our campus should take the necessary steps to actually make it one.
Raymond La is a junior majoring in microbiology.