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.
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.”