In the month since UT’s stricter smoking zone policy has gone into effect, there have been questions asked by the community as to whether it’s being enforced adequately. Markie Miller, a senior double-majoring in German and anthropology, has been walking around Main Campus in her spare time picking up cigarette butts left by those who smoke Kent cigarettes outside of the zones.
In the last two weeks, she has collected enough butts to pack a small Folgers coffee can and half of a half-gallon sized bag.
“It’s exhausting that I’m trying to do all of this alone,” she said. There are seven designated tobacco-use areas, which look similar to bus stops.
Locations include Dowd, Nash and White Halls, Stranahan Hall, between the Student Union Building and Carlson Library, Academic House, between the Crossings and Ottawa House and among McComas Village, Parks Tower and Carter Hall as well as Nitschke Hall.
Alexis Blavos, the Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drug Prevention Committee specialist, said because smoking is a sensitive issue to most on campus, the main goal of having designated smoking areas is to work to slowly change the atmosphere at UT.
“The campus belongs to all of us,” Blavos said. “It’s going to take time to change the culture. My hope is that the students, staff and faculty want to have a cleaner campus and cleaner air.”
Blavos said stricter enforcement policies have yet to be discussed and as long as members of the UT community are compliant, violators of the smoking policy will not be fined.
Blavos said members of the staff in Student Affairs are handing out information cards regarding the smoking zone locations to those seen smoking outside of the designated areas.
Most smokers approached by Student Affairs were not aware of the new smoking policy, according to Blavos.
Blavos said she has actually been surprised by the number of people utilizing the designated zones, overall. But Miller feels the policy isn’t receiving much respect by the UT community and she supports a smoke-free campus.
Miller pointed out rules for library procedures, tuition fees and deadlines are enforced with the help of fines, so smoking zone procedures should also be enforced.
“Our public institutions have the right to take privileges away,” she said. “I want to see UT held accountable the same way they expect me to pay my bills.”
While Miller stands for a smoke-free UT, some students who smoke aren’t completely for the new policy but are willing to comply.
James Law, a freshman majoring in pharmacy, said although he feels people should be able to walk outside unrestricted with a cigarette in their hand, he does not like the alternative policy.
“I’d rather have this than nothing at all,” Law said.
Law said sometimes there is not enough time for him to walk to a smoking zone between classes and admits to sometimes not entirely finishing a cigarette before leaving a smoking zone.
Law said the designated areas are becoming social hubs for smokers because students who use the zones are able to chat and bond with other smokers.
“All of my friends that I’ve met [at UT], I’ve met here [at a smoking zone],” Law said.
Some believe the smoking areas are beneficial for health reasons.
“I guess you have to respect smoker’s rights as long as it doesn’t hurt the general health of everyone else,” said Stanford Feldstein, part-time instructor of Spanish.
Annette Opfermann, a junior majoring in English, agreed and said the zones can help prevent secondhand smoke from affecting non-smokers.
“There should be zones because it is an individual freedom to smoke, but as a healthcare provider, there should be separate places so that everyone has the right to be healthy by not being around the zones,” Opfermann said.