Student committee to look at smoking policies


Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution Tuesday calling for the formation of a student-run Campus Smoking Policy Committee to investigate alternatives to the current campus smoking policy.

Burning issue · The majority of students support a smoke-free campus, prompting Undergraduate Student Government to create a committee.  - Photo illustration by Ralf Cheung

Burning issue · The majority of students support a smoke-free campus, prompting Undergraduate Student Government to create a committee. — Photo illustration by Ralf Cheung

The committee will look at the possibility of banning smoking on campus altogether. The decision to create a committee came a day after UCLA instated a campuswide ban on smoking.

According to a recent survey conducted by Undergraduate Student Government, 54 percent of undergraduates support the enforcement of a smoke-free campus, whereas 27 percent of students desire designated smoking areas. The remaining 17 percent of undergraduates indicated that they are content with the policy currently in place, which includes smoking designated areas.

The Campus Smoking Policy Committee will be composed of Graduate Student Government President Melody Shekari, USG Greek Senator Logan Heley, GSG Director of Campus Affairs Janna Bernstein, USG President Christian Kurth, Senior Associate Dean of Students Patrick Bailey, USG Director of Wellness Affairs Alexander Pinto, Director of the Office of Wellness and Health Promotion Paula Swinford and the  incoming vice president for Student Affairs.

The resolution was authored by Pinto and outgoing USG Vice President Vinnie Prasad. Prasad said that the committee was created in response to a lack of strictness in the current smoking policy.

“The current campus smoking policy is loosely defined, poorly enforced and unknown to most students on campus,” Prasad said. “Students have voiced that smoking on campus is a big issue and we want to find a policy that effectively outlines the administration’s expectations about smoking on campus.”

The current policy encourages designated outdoor smoking spaces. The policy specifies that these spaces “should be located far enough away from doorways, windows and ventilation systems to prevent smoke from entering enclosed buildings.”

However, Pinto said this policy has been largely ineffective. Smoking within 20 feet of entryways and windows of public buildings has been prohibited in the state of California since 2004, but this rule has not been enforced by the USC policy. Some saw the  ambiguity of the policy, and the lack of enforcement, often renders the rule ineffective.

“The main issue is students’ smoking near buildings, which is illegal by California state law and unfortunately, not enforced on campus,” Pinto said. “The current USC policy states that students must smoke ‘far enough’ away from a building, which is unacceptable because it does not state a distance and often results in unrestricted smoking.”

All University of California institutions will become smoke-free campuses by 2014. USC senators said this new policy encouraged them to push for more smoking regulations on the USC campus in order to align with other universities.

Though the resolution does not strictly call for a smoke-free campus, the Campus Smoking Policy Committee will propose new policies to potentially be implemented in the following academic year. Prasad said the committee will have until Nov. 1, to present a proposal for a new campus smoking policy to the USG Senate.

USG student leaders said they will work with administrators on the committee to investigate what new policies should be enacted on campus.

Heley, who sponsored the resolution, said that he believes students have the right to decide what smoking policies should be applied on campus.

“It’s clear students want our campus smoking policy changed,” Heley said. “I feel if students don’t want to smell smoke when they’re on campus then we should have a policy that allows them to make that choice.”

Whether the policy is changed or not, Prasad said he is confident that the newly formed committee will be better able to channel the voice of the student body into effective action.

“Ultimately, I believe that the committee will come up with a better smoking policy than the one we currently have, whether that is a smoke-free campus or something else,” Prasad said. “This committee can fully explore all options and alternatives from multiple perspectives and come up with the best solution.”

  • Bill Kerschner

    I am a longtime Republican Conservative and a Business owner. I do not like Government over reach but I DO support smoking bans since this is an issue that affects people who choose not to smoke. In addition, total Campus Smoking Bans are a good thing to implement since tobacco has no place in an Institution where today’s best are being prepared to be tomorrow’s leaders.

  • APZ

    It is truly amazing how stupid some people are. Who ever is dumb enough to truly believe this government propaganda that second hand cigarette smoke causes health problems deserves to die from lung cancer. News flash nicotine does not cause cancer. Tar in cigarettes has been associated with cancer. There are more carcinogens in whole milk then second hand smoke. Perhaps we should ban milk from all campuses. Isn’t that a good idea after all milk contains Genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH) which increases cancer risks. Lactose intolerance, Heart Disease, Harmful Bacteria, and Weight Gain have all been scientifically linked to drinking milk. Insulin-dependent (type 1 or childhood-onset) diabetes is linked to consumption of dairy products. In fact the list goes on and on literally not to mention if you inhale milk you will certainly die of asphyxiation. When will our government act in our best interest and make drinking milk illegal for own protection so that stupid people can justify trampling on the rights of others and being rude and smug.

    • USC parent

      APZ

      Can you provide references to any publications in substantial, refereed journals consistent with your milk claims? I seems a bit absurd and irresponsible to minimize smoking/second hand smoke as a cause of lung cancer given a plethora of supporting studies.

      Do you not accept the work product of the scientific, medical and public health communities in general in favor of government conspiracy notions?

  • jon

    Can we at least have a dedicated 420 area?

    • Sach

      Finally someone said it!

  • Avinash Singh

    UCLA banned it. Even more the reason to not ban it.

  • Carlos

    We’re all adults here. Banning smoking on campus entirely is absurd if you ask me. However, what are the policies on vaping and e-cigarettes? Are these allowed to be used inside buildings?

  • USC parent

    Mike and Alex,

    A number of communities (Of adults) have baned smoking. Great idea. Long overdue. Second hand smoke can be as offensive and hazardous outdoors as in. The issue is not “smell” which trivializes the health risk. There is no benefit to anyone, except tobacco companies and retailers, for smoking. Banning smoking on campus is an intelligent an sophisticated response. The 20 foot rule is not workable–smoke won’t abide by it even in light wind and does nothing to encourage the smoker toward more healthy behavior choices..

  • Mike

    USC doesn’t need to baby it’s students, they should work harder to enforce the 20 foot rule, but banning smoking on campus entirely is ridiculous. Just because you don’t like the smell of smoke on campus doesn’t give you the right to force everyone else not to smoke.

  • Alex Cohen

    I can’t stand cigarettes, I grew up in a house where both my parents were heavy smokers & my father currently has lung cancer & still smokes. Having said that I think if you’re outside and not bothering anyone else you should be allowed to smoke. We’re all adults at USC. Right?