Smoking ban needs some teeth

The Wichitan

By Marco Torres

Marco Torres
Marco Torres

Smoking on our campus is a problem that must be addressed. While students attempted to make the university a tobacco-free campus in 2009, the policy is practically impossible to enforce. If we want to cut down on smoking on campus, we need to give the policy some teeth.

That is why I propose we give campus police the authority to issue $25 citations to students in violation of the smoking policy. Citations for each and every violation will be charged to the students’ account, and similar to parking tickets, students could be prevented from registering for classes until resolving the fine either through payment or appeal.

When I was elected as a class senator last May, I told myself that I am going to change our school for the better. Now, as chairman of the Campus Culture Committee, I found a way to make our campus healthier while also improving its image. It is time that we get some real backing to this policy and begin to enforce it.

On any given day we can clearly see student smokers violating the tobacco-free campus policy, but under the policy there is little that can be done. The student handbook does list guidelines on action that can be taken against violators of the ban, but making the enforcement of the policy “the responsibility of all students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors” deflates the policy’s authority. So not only has this been proven to be highly ineffective, but it also creates the potential for confrontation between students.

In addition to these problems, this hard-to-enforce policy discredits the integrity of our school. The “tobacco-free campus” signs on campus only send the message that administrators are happy to pass policies they have no intention of enforcing.

When I had a booth set up in the student center, I asked students if they had any issues with anything on our campus. Smoking was one of the biggest concerns I received.

I realize that smoking is addictive, and asking students to stop cold turkey would be absurd. That is why monies collected from the citations will be given the student health center for smoking cessation programs and also nicotine patches.

Student smokers may think that this is unfair, but the policy change I am proposing would also affect staff and faculty. It is highly hypocritical to see employees of the university in violation of the policy. Faculty and staff should lead by example, so they too will not be exempt.

So far, feedback from students, staff and faculty has been overwhelmingly in support of this idea. This will be an awesome opportunity for MSU to stay ahead of the curve. I am not asking people to quit smoking altogether, I’m making them stop smoking on our campus.

Now is the time to improve our integrity and become a university of our word.

Marco Torres is a senior in psychology.

Opposing viewpoint: Tobacco policy unfair to smokers

Read more: Toothless tobacco policy needs revision

MSU’s official tobacco policy