By Elisabeth DellaMonica
Have you heard the news? Considering the fact that most students automatically delete the “Global Message” emails sent to their UT accounts, you probably didn’t. Effective Aug. 1, 2016, the University of Tampa will put a ban on all smoking and tobacco use on campus. Only 16.7% of people ages 18 to 24 are smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Therefore, this ban might not have a huge impact on most of us. However, what does it mean for that small percentage? How will this change their daily routines? It’s doubtful that it will.
“The goal of the new policy is to create and promote a healthy campus that will foster teaching, learning, working and living,” stated the message from UT’s Wellness Center. “We expect this initiative will have a positive impact in many ways, including enhanced community life, improved productivity through better health and potential decreases in health care costs.” Of course we want a cleaner, healthier campus. The idea sounds wonderful, but not realistic. On campus currently, there are designated smoking zones for students who want them, and there are signs in places where smoking is strictly prohibited. In an average day on campus I have seen students not only smoking in areas other than the designated zones, but directly in front of signs that clearly state smoking is not permitted in that area. I believe this is for the sake of convenience. If a student has class in a certain building and a smoking zone is not close by, then of course they are going to quickly step outside to have a cigarette, whether or not they can in that area. Therefore, how would banning smoking altogether change things? Students have been breaking the rules already, so I don’t see how this would stop them.
“When I smoked we only had a few designated areas on campus and no one actually paid attention to them,” said Kristen Yanez, a junior communication major and former smoker. “By banning it altogether, it’s not going to make someone stop smoking altogether.” UT’s ban on smoking and tobacco use on campus is probably not going to be the awakening moment in a smoker’s life that allows them to suddenly drop the habit. The Wellness Center does offer occasional smoking cessation classes, but again, in my opinion, there doesn’t seem to be a huge waiting list. If we’ve learned anything from history, it’s that banning something does not necessarily get the job done. The drinking age may be 21, but that doesn’t stop high school students from binge drinking. Weed may be illegal in more than half of the U.S., but that certainly does not stop people from buying, selling and smoking it. Maybe what the University of Tampa needs is not to ban smoking, but in fact put more smoking zones in place. If they were more frequent and easier to find on campus, students might actually go to them.
If there are any smokers in your life, you are aware of how the habit controls them. My friends who smoke will need a cigarette after they eat, when they’re stressed, and to go to sleep. That’s just the beginning. If a student is craving one in between classes, I highly doubt that they will trek completely off campus to smoke; an action that will only take a few minutes. I’m not saying I agree, but I feel that this is the reality.
“As of January 1, 2016, there are at least 1,475 100% smoke free campuses,” according to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, “…but the effectiveness of this ban has yet to be seen.” Although we would all love to live on a smoke-free campus, and in a smoke-free world, we need to realize that it won’t happen anytime soon.