“It’s all about a healthy, safe, congenial work and study environment for all, Plattsburgh State University Police Assistant Chief Patrick W. Keleher said.
On Aug 15, the new tobacco-restricted campus policy went into effect. Students and faculty members who smoke are now being asked to do so in the designated smoking areas. These areas include faculty and staff parking lots 2, 7, 11, 26 and 28; off-campus students’ parking lots 4A, 8, 12, 21 and 27; and on-campus students’ parking lots 18 and 20.
Keleher said PSUC is trying to accommodate smokers and non smokers.
“People who don’t smoke don’t want to be in smoking environments and don’t want to be walking around campus having people smoke all over the place. They (PSUC) also recognize that this isn’t something easy to stop. It is an addiction,” he said.
In the first year of the new policy, University Police will attempt to educate people on smoking. “This is an educational institution, Keleher said. “So we’re going to try to educate people by saying, ‘Hey we’re a tobacco-restricted campus. You can’t stay in here smoking your cigar. You have to go to the designated area.’”
When discussing the challenges of switching to the tobacco restricted campus, Keleher said it would be “pretty easy” for the campus community. “We’re going to be directed by RDs, RAs, housing staff, University Police and faculty in their department memos.”
It’s the visitors, Keleher believes, who are going to have difficulty adjusting to the new policy.
“Those are the people who may be a little more difficult to get the message to and get directed to because they’re absolutely not used to it,” Keleher said, “They’re used to walking out of that building having a cigarette or cigar or whatever the case may be.”
As far as a violation, neither the city of Plattsburgh nor Plattsburgh State has passed an ordinance. Keleher said they will instead refer smokers to the designated area for smokers.
Because the success of the policy relies on “the thoughtfulness consideration and cooperation of all campus community members,” Keleher said if people comply with the rules there will be no reason for any kind of ordinance or penalty.
If they choose not to, the college will have to revisit the problem and come up with a possible penalty.
“Right now, though, that’s not the case. Not this year,” he said.
Public relations major Ty Tedford said, “I don’t think you can make such a blanket rule saying that they can’t smoke anywhere on campus because you’re going to find people going out of their way to try to find places to do it in discreet.”
Aside from the assigned parking lots, there are other situations where tobacco is permitted on campus. In an email to students, Assistant Director for PR & Publications Gerianne Downs said, “There will be situations where tobacco use will be permitted on college grounds.”
These include scientific studies that require participants to use tobacco; tobacco use as part of traditional Native American spiritual or cultural ceremonies; and theater productions where actors and actresses are permitted to use tobacco as part of the performance.”
Tedford doesn’t agree with the policy.
“If you can’t smoke on campus then you shouldn’t be allowed to smoke anywhere. I don’t think making certain loops here and there is productive. They’re just going to abuse it and then you’re right back where you started. Wasting time and effort,” said Tedford.
Tedford believes that non-smoking signs or designated smoking signs will reach maybe one-in-five people, and those who notice won’t go next to the sign and smoke. “It will be a very small deterrent if any,” said Tedford.
Unlike Tedford, anthropology major Michelle Tran believes the policy to be a positive change.
“I think it’s a good idea for the general population on campus. I suppose it helps to lower or limit the dangerous effects of tobacco smoking. Individually speaking you can do your own thing with smoking when it’s not harming the people around you.
“The culture of smoking in America is prevalent” Tran continued, “People who smoke may have a problem with policy and might just disobey. There are solutions out there for creating a better environment and increasing health, and that’s what the policy is trying to do.”
Email Patrick Willisch at firstname.lastname@example.org