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New Smoking limits divide students

By MAGGIE JACKSON / VN Editor-in-Chief
On September 23, 2014

A new policy limiting smoking on the McNichols campus is drawing a mixed reaction from students, some of whom say it won’t be followed.

The policy, which went into effect last week, restricts smoking to designated zones, mostly near parking lots. It means, among other things, that smoking won’t be allowed immediately outside building doors. The decision might be the first step in making UDM a smoke-free campus.

“At UDM, we are committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for our students, faculty and staff,” said Vincent Abatemarco, vice president for business and finance.

In a school-wide email sent out last week, Abatemarco stated that the decision was made with the health and safety of the UDM community in mind.

“As the Michigan Department of Community Health has worked hard to reduce and eliminate tobacco-related deaths and diseases in Michigan through education, we as a university want to provide a healthy environment with a goal to encourage smoking cessation and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace,” said Abatemarco.

According to the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke causes an estimated 42,000 deaths from heart disease in the U.S. alone. It also causes about 3,400 deaths in non-smoking adults.

Fourth-year biology student Adam Yazback said that he has done research on secondhand smoke and that he thinks the policy is for the best.

“It is better for students’ health, including the smokers’,” said Yazback. “Sometimes you have to upset people to get the message through. It is a great policy, but I think that it is going to be hard to implement it out of nowhere.”

Smoking will be allowed in a limited area between Briggs and the Commerce and Finance buildings, as well as in specific areas of these parking lots: behind the Ford Life Sciences Building, between the Fisher and Architecture buildings, beside the soccer field and outside Reno Hall.

Student reactions vary, though most seem positive.

“I don’t care because I do not smoke, but for those who do, it is going to be an adjustment,” said Tori Tauriainen, a second-year nursing student. “I think that it will benefit campus. There are smoke and cigarette butts everywhere, which really annoys me. People come here for a reason, so they should try and quit the habit.”

The new policy also includes the use of e-smoking devices, which upset one student, who declined to give his name.

“I am a causal smoker and I am also more of an e-smoker,” said the student. “I understand the health concerns that this policy is trying to bring awareness to, but it is a life choice. To include electric smoking devices that do not produce smoke, secondhand smoke or any smell is ridiculous. I understand the health concerns and that smoking is a bad and nasty habit, but this is a life choice.”

Third-year biology student Danielle Roumayah agrees that smoking is something that will be difficult to stop.

“The Campus could benefit from a decision like this, but people smoke. It will be hard to cut it out because it is an addiction,” said Roumayah.

For some students, the policy is reminiscent of one enacted in 2012 that required all staff and students to wear their ID cards on a lanyard.

The policy has widely been ignored, said the student who declined to give his name. He believes the new smoking policy will not be followed, either.

“It is not going to work because I think that this decision was pretty poorly thought out,” said the student. “There is a proper way to do this and this was not the right method. There could be smoking areas in places where there are no non-smokers, for example."

In order for a policy like this to work, Yazback thinks that UDM is going to have to actively enforce it. 

“Campus has to be strict about this if they want to make this policy work,” said Yazback. “I think that 90 percent of it is a good idea, but it probably will not work.” 

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