Students debate the new tobacco ban

UVM’s tobacco ban has ignited debate and criticism about its effectiveness and impact on campus culture.

Students are starting the fall semester under the new policy that began Aug. 1 according to the UVM website. The policy bans all tobacco and smoke-producing substances.

SGA President Jason Maulucci said that UVM administrators don’t want to be the only  ones enforcing the new policy. “The goal is to be a peer-enforced cultural shift,” Maulucci said. “But it will take time.”

Despite its goal to decrease health hazards, student opinions prove that even without smoke, there’s still fire.

“I think it’s a good step forward,” senior Ashlin Treadway said. “I will appreciate walking through fewer smoke clouds if it works.”

For some students, the ban could not come soon enough. “I basically grew up on a smoke-free campus back home, and UVM was a bit of a harsh adjustment,” senior Saritha Beauchamp said.

“I’ve been looking forward to the switch for months now,” she said. However, some opponents, including non-smokers, believe the policy infringes upon student freedom. 

“Basically this decision was made without enough support from students,”  junior Rayne Hanke-Ledwith said. “Obviously smoking is bad and the effects are well known at this point. So then it just comes down to personal choices,” she said.

Hanke-Ledwith said her main issue is with the principle behind the policy. “If some study comes out that meat is actually really bad for you, are you going to declare a ban on meat? Fuck no you’re not, because motherfuckers love bacon,” she said.

Sophomore Brandice Bodie feels that the policy suggests how people should live their lives. “I don’t smoke, but to ban smoking is a bit much,” she said.

Other students seem to disagree with the policy’s intent to make campus healthier.

“Quitting smoking is a personal decision and certainly won’t be initiated by inconveniencing those addicted,” junior Galen Spring said.

Regardless of opinion, both sides wonder how the new policy will be enforced. “I like the ban, [but] the policy just doesn’t really mention any sort of actual enforcement,” said junior Jay Rodrigues. 

“The number of smokers on campus would make the ban very difficult to enforce,” Spring said. “Ticketing students for smoking would essentially become a full-time job for campus police in the first few weeks,” he said. “Faced with fines, students would likely give false names anyway,” said Spring.

Over 1,500 institutions around the country have implemented similar tobacco policies. Beauchamp said her father is a professor at the University of Washington, where there is also a smoke free policy. She said she spent a lot of time on campus.

“Their smoke-free is slightly different than the policy we have here,” Beauchamp said. “They have designated smoking areas which are the only areas [smoking is] allowed,” she said. Beauchamp said that its impact relied on campus culture.

“It’s completely successful, but Seattle as a whole looks down on smoking; it’s banned in parks, near buildings, etc.,” said Beauchamp.