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Lights up or Lights down?

By Patrick Harvey
On November 28, 2012

Recently I checked my email on the Massasoit website and found a voluntary survey on smoking restrictions and suggested the possibility of a smoke free campus in the not too distant future. It seems that some college campuses have already adopted a "NO SMOKING" policy on campus grounds, and instead of just following suit, our Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management, David Tracey, has wisely taken this approach in an effort to gain feedback from our students before making any hasty decisions.
I had the opportunity to interview several people, from both sides of the issue, on what their thoughts were on this controversial subject; and although they all agree that some changes will have to be made, it seems the overall debate between smokers and non smokers continues. I first had the chance to speak to three female students, all of who were smokers, and although they were already involved in a discussion of their own, they were kind enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions. I began by asking them if they had heard of the smoking survey published on our Massasoit web site, to which they all replied "yes". I then asked them what their thoughts were on either moving towards a smoke free campus or implementing further restrictions like the proposed limiting of smoking to their own personal vehicles in the parking lot. Surprisingly enough, although they were all adamant about not moving towards a smoke free campus, as you would imagine, they were not void of ideas about changes that could be made.
One student suggested that they could have their own areas to smoke, complete with a canopy and seating. Another student bolstered by adding: "that way they could get rid of a lot of the areas where smoking now exists". I asked them about these existing smoking areas located outside building entrances to which they all agreed that even in designated non smoking places like covered walkways you will be sure to find occasional smokers, especially on days when the weather is not so fair.
Being a smoker myself I often find that I have my first smoke in the privacy of my own car when I first arrive on campus; however, between classes I may have but a few minutes of time and will often retreat to the side of a building where the weather is less of an issue. I also had the unique opportunity of talking to someone in the maintenance department who was a non smoker.
One of their duties was cleaning up after the would be smokers. Although remaining anonymous his input was no less revealing. He stated he had just cleaned a lot of the places where smokers congregate, and often finds them a complete mess. When I asked if he thought having just a few localized areas complete with canopies and places to sit as previously suggested by the three students I had talked to earlier, he replied; "that may not work either, because students who are non smokers will take offense to not having their own area or sharing with smokers."
I was finally able to ask one of our distinguished officers from the Massasoit police and although he was busy performing his duties he did offer this one remark. He stated: "I am a non smoker and I am against smoking and if they want to smoke they should do it off campus". Overall I do find that people on both sides of the issue are willing to compromise to some extent. However, the proposal of restricting smoking to our cars or in the least, the parking lot in my opinion could cause more damage than the actual existing problem we now face.
A more plausible solution to the problem and one that may be easier to digest would be to phase out certain areas that are now being used for smoking. For instance restricting standing smoking areas from the front of buildings facing the street and installing stationary trash/ ashtray kiosks in open areas further back would be a refreshing start. In conclusion if a smoke free campus does become a reality someday, the centralization now of smoking areas away from buildings would make for an easier transition. I strongly urge students to partake in the survey, which lasts all of two minutes, otherwise the lack of feedback may be perceived as a lack of interest and decisions may be made simply without the feedback of the students it will directly affect.

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