USC continues push to become smoke-free
As part of USC’s Healthy Trojans wellness initiative, the University Park Campus is beginning to make steps toward becoming smoke-free.
The USC Academic Senate — composed of faculty members — began considering a smoke-free campus last December, when it started to conduct research on the feasibility and the possible benefits.
Though this idea is only in its conceptual stages, members of the Academic Senate are pushing for a smoke-free campus to become a reality — as soon as within a few years.
Chris Chomyn, a member of the senate and co-chair for the provost’s advisement on family rights, said he heard many arguments from USC community members in favor of going smoke-free.
“One of the most compelling reasons that I heard was from Dr. Joseph Randolph,” Chomyn said. “He basically let us know that smoking causes tumors in nine different organs of humans. Additionally secondhand smoke causes cancer in people, and tobacco can be linked to more than 30 percent of all human cancers.”
When research and statistics were presented to the Academic Senate in April, an initiative was almost unanimously passed to turn USC in the direction of a smoke-free campus. Since then, the USC Staff Assembly has also proposed and passed a similar initiative after talking with the Academic Senate.
As the smoke-free initiative becomes more of a realistic possibility for USC, the Academic Senate has begun to think of the logistics involved in making USC smoke-free, said Patty Riley, co-chair of the faculty environmental committee of the Academic Senate.
“It might follow the process that other organizations have used, which is a phased process where they first designate smoking areas for some amount of time,” Riley said. “Then, eventually the campus or the hospital or whatever sort of organization it is goes completely smoke-free.”
Currently, there are a few designated smoking areas on campus, near the Ronald Tutor Campus Center and the Pertusati Bookstore.
Though there is no campus ban on smoking, there are restrictions already in place, including a ban on smoking in or within 20 feet of university buildings.
Administrators are not sure when the initiative will become a reality, said Peter Conti, head of the Academic Senate, but they do agree on one thing: USC’s transition to a smoke-free campus will attempt to be understanding of the students’ experience.
“The most important thing here is that it’s not going to be a punitive process; it’s going to be an educational process,” Conti said. “I think we want to make it more of a joint effort between communities, saying, ‘We can do this as a community.’”
Though the faculty and staff are in favor of the smoke-free initiative, it must next be approved by student groups in order to move forward.
The Faculty Environmental Committee, along with the Advisory Committee on Work and Family Life, plan to speak to both the Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate this year to learn if students are in favor of the initiative.
Alex Williams, a freshman majoring in theatre who does not smoke, said she is in favor of a smoke-free campus.
“I just find it inconvenient to have to walk around and smell cigarette smoke everywhere outside because people don’t follow the rules necessarily of being far away from buildings or staying in the designated smoking areas,” Williams said. “I personally think [a smoke-free campus] is fine because my own personal view is that smoking kills and it is hazardous to people’s health, long-term and short-term.”
Williams said student input should be a large part of the process, and suggested public forums or school-wide surveys to gauge student opinions.
Other students said they felt differently.
William Hellwarth, a freshman majoring in interactive entertainment who smokes, acknowledged that smoking is unhealthy, but said he believes it is a choice.
“A lot of kids value very strongly their rights, including stuff like smoking on campus,” Hellwarth said. “They would feel trodden on, certainly.”
Conti said although students do have the right to make their own decisions, others also have the right to be healthy.
“People around you have a right to be healthy too. And we want to encourage people to choose that right as opposed to choosing the right to smoke,” he said.
The university already has programs to help students stop smoking with the aid of counseling services, patches and even prescriptions. As the initiative progresses, the emphasis will be on helping students to make healthy decisions.
“It’s important that the students get involved,” Conti said. “If the students want this to happen, it will happen.”