September 6, 2011

Smoke free policy might as well be nonexistent

By Michelle Eigenheer– 

On Nov. 19, 2010, the University of Louisville launched its smoke-free campaign, discouraging tobacco users from smoking anywhere on the Belknap and Shelby campuses. Less than a year later, this crusade seems to have had little effect.

Walking across campus, it is almost impossible not to pass a group of smokers. More than once, I have had to endure walking through a smoke-filled quad. With “no smoking” signs posted all over campus, many people wonder why there is so much blatant cigarette use. Two reasons stand out:

Firstly, the university is not effectively enforcing the smoking ban. There are no consequences to being caught smoking, and many campus police officers do not even react to obvious disregard for the university ordinance. With no legal or academic consequences, students do not see a need to abide by any rules or expectations.

Secondly, the smokers who have such disregard for behavioral expectations are people who disregard the welfare of others.

These smokers do not care that their habits affect other people, and some even relish in the negative responses from those who happen by. Because of this, many people who are really bothered by the smoke are afraid to say anything because it would cause a scene. Students choose to attend the University of Louisville, many aware of its smoke-free status. It’s almost unavoidable; University of Kentucky has a smoke-free campus as well. For some, this may even be one characteristic that distinguishes the university above others. The University of Louisville has given all students a reasonable expectation of living and learning in a smoke-free environment. However, little has been done to defend or encourage that expectation. Personally, I like breathing in relatively clean city air and have no desire to add cigarette smoke to my body. I am a freshman who came to U of L with the impression that the issue would be something I would not have to deal with. So far, I’m disappointed.

Realistically, smoking in a hightraffic area, such as the Humanities courtyard, is just as bad as smoking inside of a building. The difference is that you don’t see many people taking a smoke break in the middle of their math lecture.

For the smoke-free campaign to have a full and positive effect, U of L needs to take a proactive, rather than passive, approach to ending the smoking on campus — smokers should be fined if they are caught lighting up on campus. Until they back up their signs with action, the University of Louisville’s smoke-free campus initiative will not go very far.

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