Starting next semester, students who smoke will have to find other places to light up between classes. All Arizona State University campuses and buildings will become tobacco-free beginning Aug. 1.
When the new rules take effect at the start of the fall semester, students will have to go off-campus to smoke. The ban applies to students, faculty members and visitors.
The ban has sparked controversy among students. One student-led group, Students for Liberty, went so far as to hand out cigarettes to students on the Tempe campus.
The group is against a tobacco ban because they believe the policy takes away student choices at a public institution, says Carlos Alfaro, an executive-board member for the group.
The University Senate, a group of ASU faculty who influence university policy, passed the motion in September 2012. Student-government groups at ASU’s four campuses voted on whether they support making the university a tobacco-free campus last semester. The motion was approved with a 55-24 vote.
ASU is joining more than 600 colleges and universities around the country that have pledged to be tobacco-free and have enacted similar bans.
When the ban goes into effect, all tobacco products, including alternative tobacco products such as smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes and hookah will be prohibited. ASU has found these products to be harmful and are banned because they do not fit with the university’s environment of health and wellness.
Currently, ASU prohibits smoking indoors and allows smoking outside, provided people are 25 feet away from building entrances. The University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University have similar rules. Both universities have designated smoking areas on campus, identified by red designated smoking signs.
University Senate President Mark Lussier says he realizes the importance of finding off-campus smoking areas for ASU students and faculty at all four campuses.
“Faculty and students will have an easier time finding areas near campus to smoke on the Downtown campus compared to Tempe,” Lussier said.
He considered creating smoking zones but it is not consistent with ASU’s commitment to improve the environment and health of those on campus.
Lussier suggests that students visit students.asu.edu/tobaccofree/faqs, which offers a map of all four ASU campuses showing where students, faculty and visitors are allowed to smoke.
The site also offers tools that can help students who want to quit smoking and has information on the official policy.
“We hope that students will take advantage of various wellness and tobacco cessation programs that are available. We will not have a tobacco-police writing citations if they see a puff of smoke, but we hope that peer-pressure and social enforcement will encourage smokers to quit,” said Helene Ossipov, Senate president of the Tempe campus.
The Senate’s primary way of enforcing the ban is through education. Potential consequences and fines have not been discussed, says Ossipov.
Journalism sophomore Mitch Hacker feels neutral about the ban.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction, but I don’t think it will accomplish anything with regards to people still smoking. People are going to smoke no matter what,” he said.
According to a 2009 survey by the American College Health Association, 5 percent of ASU students reported that they smoke daily, while 16 percent smoke at least once a month.
• Kelly Kleber is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.