Sonoma State University will join more than 1,500 other universities nationwide to enforce a smoking ban throughout the entire campus on July 1. The policy took a transitional effect on Feb. 1 and smoking is currently only allowed in designated parking lots across campus.
Sonoma State began a gradual transition toward a smoke-free campus beginning in the 1980s and 1990s, when the university prohibited smoking in campus buildings, covered walkways and entryways. From there, several amendments were made to the smoking policy, bringing the university closer to a smoking ban across the entire campus taking effect earlier this month.
Feb. 1 ushered in the first phase of Sonoma State’s campus-wide smoking ban. For now, there are still designated smoking areas on campus; however, July 1 will launch the official ban.
The ban means that smoking and other uses of tobacco products will be prohibited on campus as well as at off-campus sites under university ownership or control, and in vehicles owned, leased, or rented by the university according to Sonoma State’s smoking policy.
As a result of allowing people to smoke and use tobacco products on campus in the past, the university’s cleaning, maintenance, and repair costs rapidly increased.
The purpose of the policy is to uphold its responsibility to help maintain the good health of students on campus and avoid mishaps or hazards potentially caused by smoking or smoking products.
“Sonoma State has long felt we could do more to protect our students’ and
employees from second-hand smoke,” said Susan Kashack, chief communications officer. “The campus does not have a large population of smokers but enough so that a few years ago we banned smoking within 20 feet of any doorway, breezeway or other area where the campus community might walk through or occupy.
Kashack believes the new policy takes the prior smoking policy one step further by prohibiting smoking throughout the entire campus, beginning July 1. Until then, smoking is allowed only in designated parking lots.
“[The policy] reflects the concerted efforts and concerns of students, student groups such as the Student Health Advisory Committee and the Associated Students as well as many Sonoma State employees over a number of years,” said Director of the Student Health Center Georgia Schwartz. “It reflects a sound public health approach and responsibility for the campus.”
President Ruben Armiñana believes the smoking ban benefits the health of everyone on campus.
“Science has been very clear about the dangers that smoking presents to smokers [as well as] non-smokers,” said Armiñana.
Many students are very pleased to hear about the new smoking policy in addition to faculty.
“I don’t like randomly walking into a cloud of smoke and feeling like I’m going to get lung cancer,” said Victoria Castellanos, sophomore biology major. “I like this change.”
Sophomore and English major Katelynn Jasper said, “Personally, I think [the smoking-ban] is great. I enjoy my fresh air.”
While some students may be happy about the smoking ban, many were also dismayed by the policy.
“It’s kind of insulting that the university decided to prohibit smoking on campus,” said sophomore criminal justice major Daniel Havel. “Smoking is an effective stress reliever for a lot of people and it also helps them focus.”
The university anticipated some of the problems that have arised due to the ban and developed ways to come to the aid of those who may seek help during this time.
Junior English major Nik Stelmashenko was made skeptical by the ban and said, “[The university] is just doing it for the money. The amount of people who smoke on campus is minuscule, so it really isn’t doing much.”
To accommodate employees struggling with the ban, Human Resources and Environmental Health and Safety are able to assist and the Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services are prepared to help students, should they experience major withdrawal symptoms as a result of this ban.
“We are excited about becoming completely smoke-free on July 1 and look forward to providing as much education and smoking cessation support as we possibly can during the months leading up to that date,” said Tammy Kenber, chief human resources officer.
For more information on the new smoking policy, visit sonoma.edu/uaffairs/policies/smokingpolicy.htm.