Students split over possible smoking ban

Students were split on a push from faculty and staff groups to ban smoking on campus at the “Smoke-Free Campus Forum” hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government in Taper Hall of Humanities on Wednesday night.

Smoking · USC Academic Senate Vice President Patricia Riley and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Denzil Suite speak at the forum. - Katherine Montgomery | Daily Trojan

The forum, attended by about 40 students, was intended to gauge student body support for the initiative before USG takes an official position by passing a senate resolution on the subject in the next few weeks. Students were urged to pose questions and voice their opinions in a town hall format to a four-person panel of university employees involved in the initiative.

“At this point, our stance is to discuss the issue more and gauge what students want to see before we, as representatives, can make any informed decision,” USG President Monish Tyagi said.

The panel was comprised of key university representatives involved with the initiative, including Patricia Riley, academic vice-president of the USC Academic Senate; Paula Swinford, director of Health Promotion and Prevention Services and John Gaspari, executive director of the Center for Work and Family Life.

Jared Ginsburg, USG director of campus affairs, began the forum by presenting the preliminary results from an ongoing online survey. Survey takers were able to support multiple options about limiting smoking on campus. Forty-five percent of the 1,227 respondents favored a categorical ban on smoking and 40 percent favored establishing designated smoking areas. Of the 1,227 survey respondents, 67 percent reported they never smoke. The survey will remain open for about two more weeks and can be accessed through USG’s website.

Most attendees favored a compromise, such as establishing designated smoking areas rather than a ban. Some students, however, were in favor of banning smoking altogether.

“If we take away the right to smoke it will lead to a healthier lifestyle and a better environment for everyone to be in,” said Niki Noe, a freshman majoring in biochemistry.

The administration has not yet made a decision on the issue, said panelist and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Denzil Suite. He also said if the ban were to be put in place, there are no current plans to enforce it with citations or fines.

“Our approach would be more educational and informing people where they can and cannot smoke on campus,” Suite said.

The USG Senate will pass a resolution in which it will take an official position in support of or opposition to adopting a smoke-free campus policy once the survey has at least 2,000 responses, Ginsburg said.

“We have to wrestle between students who feel that it is their individual right to smoke on campus and in the open air and those who feel that it is an infringement on their right, in the sense that the air that they are breathing is being obstructed by second-hand smoke of passers by,” Ginsburg said.

After attending the event, some students said they felt less inclined to support a ban on smoking after hearing the side of student smokers.

“At first, going in, I was thinking they should ban smoking altogether,” said Yumeng Wei, a junior majoring in business administration. “But people brought up some really good points about it being their right to smoke and that they [are] already limited as to where they can smoke.”

The USC Academic Senate and the USC Staff Assembly, the respective representative bodies of faculty and staff, passed resolutions telling USC administration their constituents would support a smoke-free campus in 2010.

As of July 2011, at least 530 colleges have adopted 100 percent smoke-free campus policies, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Current USC smoking policy dates back to 1993 and mostly pertains to smoking in buildings. Last October, the USC Health Sciences campus enacted a smoke-free policy. The Graduate and Professional Student Senate is also working on passing a resolution.

6 replies
  1. Greg Hathaway
    Greg Hathaway says:

    This is why I think all smokers should be able to smoke those Crown7 electric cigarettes I keep seeing all over the place. My school actually sells them in a nice vending machine!!

  2. harleyrider1978
    harleyrider1978 says:

    A letter from a doctor on shs

    Robert E. Madden MD, FACS. I am also a non-smoker. HOWEVER I am a passionate opponent smoking bans. Most of the opposition to the smoking bans has been based upon economic factors such as loss of business revenue, even closings. My opposition is due to loss of individual freedom and abuse of scientific fact.

    I am a practicing chest surgeon, a teacher and a former cancer researcher. I am also past president of the NY Cancer Society. I will not tell you that smoking is harmless and without risk, in fact one in eight hundred smokers will develop lung cancer. Asthmatics should avoid tobacco smoke. What I will say is: 1) it’s a personal choice and 2) so called second smoke (ETS) is virtually harmless. One may not like the smell but it has not been shown to cause cancer, even in bartenders. If people do not like the odor then they may go elsewhere. Those who support the ban have no right to deny 24% of the adult population their enjoyment of a popular product based on dislike, possibly hatred of smoking. This attitude is that of a bigot, akin to anti-Semitism or racism.

    To me the most offensive element of the smoking bans is the resort to science as “proving that environmental smoke, second hand smoke, causes lung cancer”. Not only is this unproven but there is abundant and substantial evidence to the contrary. It is frustrating, even insulting, for a scientist like myself to hear the bloated statistics put out by the American Cancer Society (of which I am a member) and the American Lung Association used to justify what is best described as a political agenda. Smokers enjoy smoking. Most non-smokers are neutral. Anti-smokers hate smoking. It is this last group that drives the engine of smoking bans. Smoking sections in restaurants, ventilated bars and the like have been satisfactory and used for years. To those who choose to smoke they do so at their own risk. To those eschew smoking let them patronize establishments whose owners prohibit smoking. To impose a city wide or a state wide ban is to deny people of their rights.

    Robert E. Madden, M.D

  3. harleyrider1978
    harleyrider1978 says:

    Date: Sat, 8 Nov 2008 01:04:54 -0500

    I am a Texan for 22 years, a 36 year physician, specializing in
    emergency medicine. I am familiar with the public health science on
    second hand smoke. I can say with confidence that second hand smoke
    may irritate some, but it does not kill. Those claiming thousands of
    deaths from second hand smoke to the public are deceitful for a
    political goal.

    Public Health Studies cited by the Cancer Society and the Surgeon
    General that claim thousands of deaths from second hand smoke are
    weak, cherry-picked studies. Their supporters compound their perfidy
    by ignoring studies by the World Health Organization (Buffetta 1998
    in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute), Stranges, 2006 in
    Archives of Internal Medicine and Enstrom 2003 in The British Medical
    Journal, that show no second hand smoke effect.

    In science, one study that disproves a scientific theory is more
    important than a pile of studies that are slightly positive. Anti-
    smoking advocates and fanatics ignore that basic rule and ignore any
    study they don’t like. They are propagandists, not scientists.

    The crusaders are willing to do anything and say anything about
    second hand smoke, including making public statements about thousands
    of deaths from second hand smoke. Those claims are multifarious and
    duplicitous—they are lies. Second hand smoking, even for the spouse
    of a smoker is one cigarette or less per day—which has no effect.
    The second hand smoke scare is a phantom menace conjured up by the
    High Holy Church of Smoke Haters to support the anti smoking

    Smoking Bans violate the Ohio tradition of mind your own business.
    If the Ohio General Assembly thinks it has a role in telling people
    how to live, they should get a Divinity Degree and find a
    congregation. Folks in Ohio can easily avoid second hand smoke, and
    employment in a bar or restaurant is voluntary. Smoking is legal.
    Avoiding smoke is easy.

    John Dale Dunn MD JD

    Policy Advisor
    American Council on Science
    and Health,
    NYC, and the Heartland Institute, Chicago.

Comments are closed.