Smoking policy raises questions
Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 16:11
President John C. Hitt announced in his State of the University Address that UCF will be going smoke-free next year with a goal of having the entire campus smoke-free by fall 2012.
The current policy allows for people to smoke outside as long as they are 15 feet from the doorways. The new policy will ban all smoking on campus.
Although we view Hitt's move as a step in the right direction, there are still many questions and concerns with regard to this new proposal.
One of the objectives of this policy is to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, which poses a significant danger to students.
The American Cancer Society defines secondhand smoke as coming from the mixture of two forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco: sidestream smoke and mainstream smoke.
Sidestream smoke is smoke that comes from the end of a lit cigarette, pipe or cigar, and mainstream smoke is the smoke that is exhaled by a smoker.
According to the Society, tobacco smoke carries more than 4,000 chemical compounds, and secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000. More than 250 of those chemicals are known to be harmful, and more than 60 are known to cause cancer, according to the Society.
The Society finds that there are an estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease due to secondhand smoke in people who are current non-smokers. About 3,400 lung-cancer deaths each year come from secondhand smoke as well.
This is an important objective, and this policy aims to achieve the goal of avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke.
However, providing designated smoking areas to those who choose to smoke, rather than placing an outright ban on the entire campus, is something that should be considered. It could make the policy simpler to enforce rather than the current proposed approach, which requires individuals to enforce the policy.
Asking individuals to enforce a complete smoking ban on campus could unnecessarily place students into conflict between themselves and smokers and lead to arguments. Some students may choose to avoid having a potential confrontation with a smoker and not enforce the policy. Also, there's no telling a smoker won't flat out tell someone no if asked to put out their cigarette.
There are currently at least 586 campuses that are currently smoke-free, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.
The new policy announced by Hitt addresses an important topic, but there are still questions to be looked at when it comes to this issue.
The impact of requiring individuals to enforce the policy needs to be addressed, as well as whether providing designated smoking areas is a suitable alternative to the enforcement issue.
It will be critically important to examine these issues in order to ensure that this policy is effective and successful.