Since we were about eight years old we have been told constantly how smoking and smokeless tobacco products are harmful to a person’s health. But the truth is that people still choose to smoke, even though they are aware of its harmful effects.
Last January, Illinois State took the first step in cleaning up its campus and protecting the health of non-smokers by banning smoking on the Quad, as well as inside university buildings and vehicles. This campus is one of about 1,182 campuses across the country to implement such a policy, according to an article in USA Today.
However, many of these other universities are noticing other effects. They have more students kicking the habit, which was also a partial incentive for a lot of these schools.
ISU’s main purpose for implementing its policy was to clean up the Quad. All of the cigarette butts that were thrown across the sidewalks made the campus look dirty, and with the policy now in effect, the Quad is exponentially cleaner. The mission was a success.
But does ISU have the same side benefits of having many students quit smoking due to simply being unable to smoke going to and from class?
First, it should be noted that the policy itself is meant to be put into effect by the students, meaning that if someone is smoking on the Quad, someone else should be able to approach that person and ask him or her to stop. After this, the offender is subject to citations and fines.
That being said, some students still smoke on the Quad, knowing that many others will feel uncomfortable addressing the issue, even if they do not want the smoke near them. This means that students obviously still smoke; they just smoke less openly than before.
Second, students have the ability to smoke outside of the dorms. At Watterson, the area where people smoke, dubbed “Cancer Corner,” still has many students visit. Hewett-Manchester residents also sit outside on the picnic table by Subway to smoke.
These students simply cannot smoke in their rooms. But the students living in off-campus locations have the ability to smoke indoors or outside, depending on their preferences and the lease.
Even with the amount of consequences that can occur from smoking, it is virtually impossible to convince people to stop if they do not have the desire. The USA Today article stated that the main reason that other universities have experienced a lot of students quitting is due to the amount of discomfort at having nowhere to smoke, since many of them had entirely smoke-free campuses.
The article went on to say that, additionally, many of the students at these universities sought out the resources offered to help them quit. One student in the article mentioned his difficulty of breaking the habit when he would simply smoke at certain times of the day, and after not succeeding in his venture to quit altogether, he opted to fill his cravings with e-cigarettes.
Although the aforementioned student did not successfully quit smoking, it is important to note that many students on other campuses seek out the help they need in quitting such an addictive habit. ISU has these same resources through Student Health Services and Health Promotion and Wellness. The “quit kits” are even available at the G-Spot.
But the message here is that perhaps the tobacco policy should be reconsidered in the future to also include spaces outside the dorms. Right now, the policy is still relatively new, and since the goal was not to help students quit, perhaps that can be a discussion for the future where ISU could go entirely smoke-free.